Today marks the 32 year anniversary of Al Kaline’s number being retired by the Detroit Tigers. On August 17th, 1980, the Tigers played a double header with the Texas Rangers. Despite both games resulting in a loss, the capacity crowd was able to celebrate the career of arguably the greatest player to ever wear a Tiger’s uniform when the team retired Kaline’s #6 jersey. Kaline spent his entire 22 season career with the Tigers, and has been a part of the organization since his retirement as a commentator and front office official, which earned him the nickname “Mr. Tiger.”
Kaline’s 22 season career started in 1953 at the age of 18 as a late inning outfield replacement for Jim Delsing. From there, Kaline went on to win 10 gold gloves, an AL batting title (1955) and a World Series championship (1968). His career .297 batting average, 399 home runs and 1,583 runs batted in earned him 18 All-Star game nominations as well. Kaline is also a member of the exclusive 3,000 hit club.
On October 7, 1935 the Detroit Tigers won the World Series with a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 6. This was the first championship for the Tigers in five World Series appearances. They had lost in 1907, 1908, 1909, and 1934. Some believed the Cubs would be World Champions since they had a better regular season record than the Tigers. In addition, the Cubs had a 21-game winning streak during the pennant stretch. The Tigers went 8-14 in their last 22 games, however, their Game 6 performance proved many of their skeptics wrong. Tommy Bridges pitched a complete game victory to win the Series for Detroit. Mickey Cochrane, the Tigers' manager, commented on Bridges' performance, "A hundred and fifty pounds of courage. If there ever is a payoff of courage, this little 150-pound pitcher is the greatest World Series hero." In addition to Bridges, right fielder Pete Fox was the Tigers' hitting hero, accumulating ten hits and an average of .385 for the Series.
Navin Field, where Game 6 was played, quickly became filled with excited fans who rushed the field after Goose Goslin's game winning hit. For a short time, the city of Detroit's worries over the Great Depression disappeared as the joyous World Series celebration flooded the entire city. Newspapers reported the celebration went on until three in the morning.
Despite the happiness the team must have experienced during this time, there was some unfortunate news that soon followed the World Series win. Detroit owner Frank Navin ran the organization for 30 years. Navin saw four of his teams win American League pennants, only to lose four World Series. Five weeks after the Tigers won the World Series, Navin suffered a heart attack and died.
After a roller coaster ride of September baseball, the 2011 MLB Playoff teams are now set.
(1) Philadelphia Phillies vs (4) St. Louis Cardinals
(2) Milwaukee Brewers vs (3) Arizona Diamondbacks
(1) New York Yankees vs (3) Detroit Tigers
(2) Texas Rangers vs (4) Tampa Bay Rays
Keeping in mind that the National League will have home field advantage due to winning the All-Star game, who do you think will win the 2011 World Series Championship?
We'd like to start the day off with a jersey giveaway. This one is a Detroit Tigers 1968 Al Kaline jersey size XL! Be the first to comment this facebook post to win!
In 1968 Al Kaline missed two months that season due to a broken arm. In a move later called one of the ten greatest coaching decisions of the century by ESPN, Tiger manager Mayo Smith brought Kaline back into the lineup. Benching shortstop Ray Oyler and sending center fielder Mickey Stanley to take his spot helped to make room for Kaline in the outfield.
The St. Louis Cardinals were up three games to one in the 1968 World Series. In Game 5 the Cardinals had a 3-2 lead in the 7th inning. Kaline hit a single with the bases loaded, driving in two runs to take the lead. The Tigers went on to win Games 5, 6 & 7 to win their first World Championship since 1945. In seven games and his only World Series appearance Al Kaline hit .379 with two home runs and eight RBIs.
Kaline finished his career with 3,007 hits, 399 home runs and 1583 RBIs.