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Bubba Helms Was A Halloween Riot: When Detroit Won The 1984 World Series

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A groundskeeper at Jack Murphy Stadium paints the logo for the 1984 World Series between San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers in San Diego October 1984. (AP Photo) Ref #: PA.17072325  Date: 01/10/1984

A groundskeeper at Jack Murphy Stadium paints the logo for the 1984 World Series between San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers in San Diego October 1984. (AP Photo)
Ref #: PA.17072325 Date: 01/10/1984

 

 

IN 1984, the Detroit Tigers won baseball’s World Series.

 

etroit Tigers pitcher Willie Hernandez and catcher Lance Parrish celebrate after beating the San Diego Padres to win the World Series in Detroit, in this Oct. 14, 1984 file photo. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin) Ref #: PA.4041203

Detroit Tigers pitcher Willie Hernandez and catcher Lance Parrish celebrate after beating the San Diego Padres to win the World Series in Detroit, in this Oct. 14, 1984 file photo. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin) Ref #: PA.4041203

 

 

There was a parade in Detroit.

 

Detoit Tigers' Kirk Gibson waves to the crowd, Oct. 17, 1984, who were on hand for the ticker-tape parade through downtown Detroit in honor of the World Series champion Tigers. Gibson hit one of the most famous World Series home runs at Tiger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark Cornillie) Ref #: PA.8672677  Date: 17/10/1984

Detoit Tigers’ Kirk Gibson waves to the crowd, Oct. 17, 1984, who were on hand for the ticker-tape parade through downtown Detroit in honor of the World Series champion Tigers. Gibson hit one of the most famous World Series home runs at Tiger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark Cornillie) Ref #: PA.8672677

 

 

Love was in the air.

 

Anthony Sanchez and his bride of several hours, Charlotte, study a World Series program at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Oct. 14, 1984. They came to game five of the Detroit-San Diego match-up from their wedding ceremony at nearby Dearborn Heights. The couple will live in Taylor, Mich., but not until after the baseball game. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan) Ref #: PA.18100716  Date: 14/10/1984

Anthony Sanchez and his bride of several hours, Charlotte, study a World Series program at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Oct. 14, 1984. They came to game five of the Detroit-San Diego match-up from their wedding ceremony at nearby Dearborn Heights. The couple will live in Taylor, Mich., but not until after the baseball game. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan) Ref #: PA.18100716 

 

Detroit went nuts.

Baltimore Sun:

The riots that erupted after the Tigers’ World Series victory over the San Diego Padres in 1984 left one person dead and 80 injured. Eight rapes were reported, along with millions of dollars in property damage. Detroiters overturned and burned a squad car and a taxi and hurled rocks and bottles at police wearing riot gear.

 

 In this Oct. 14, 1984 file photo, a crowd attempts to topple a damaged taxi car outside Detroit's Tiger Stadium after the Detroit Tigers defeated the San Diego Padres to win the 1984 World Series baseball championship. (AP Photo) Ref #: PA.17098190  Date: 14/10/1984

In this Oct. 14, 1984 file photo, a crowd attempts to topple a damaged taxi car outside Detroit’s Tiger Stadium after the Detroit Tigers defeated the San Diego Padres to win the 1984 World Series baseball championship. (AP Photo) Ref #: PA.17098190

 

 

A star was born. Bubba Helms was 17.

“I did it for my sister,” Helms would later say. “I told her, I promised her that I’d get on TV or get a picture taken.”

He became a kind of hero.

Bubba Helms stands next to a burning Detroit police car after the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres to win the 1984 World Series in Detroit. Helms became a folk hero of sorts; two weeks after the Tigers won, a number of people came to Detroit-area Halloween parties dressed like him. The rest of his life, though, would be marked by failure, drug addiction, mental illness and a broken marriage. (AP Photo/Joe Kennedy)

 

Bubba Helms, left, celebrates after the Detroit Tigers won the 1984 World Series in Detroit in 1984. Detroit erupted into chaos in 1984, following the Tigers' World Series victory over the San Diego Padres. There hasn't been a riot since then, but the image of chaos in Detroit has become so ingrained that officials find it necessary to point out when local fans behave themselves. (AP Photo/Robert Kozloff)

Bubba Helms, left, celebrates after the Detroit Tigers won the 1984 World Series in Detroit in 1984. Detroit erupted into chaos in 1984, following the Tigers’ World Series victory over the San Diego Padres. There hasn’t been a riot since then, but the image of chaos in Detroit has become so ingrained that officials find it necessary to point out when local fans behave themselves. (AP Photo/Robert Kozloff)

 

Deadspin:

In April 2001, just as baseball season started up, Bubba Helms put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. “Helms’ 2-year-old son was in his grandpa’s arms, watching, as his dad pulled the trigger,” the Free Press reported. The shot didn’t kill him, just shattered his jaw, and the hospital eventually sent him on his way with a prescription for painkillers. He took an entire bottle, and died.

His nephew found something in Helms’s closet while going through his belongings, the Free Press wrote. It was 1984 Detroit Tigers pennant. The family still had the newspaper clippings of Helms holding it at the riots. It had always been the highlight of his life.

 

Bubba Helms stands next to a burning Detroit police car after the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres to win the 1984 World Series in Detroit. Helms became a folk hero of sorts; two weeks after the Tigers won, a number of people came to Detroit-area Halloween parties dressed like him. The rest of his life, though, would be marked by failure, drug addiction, mental illness and a broken marriage. (AP Photo/Joe Kennedy) Ref #: PA.8652868  Date: 01/01/1984