Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Al Kaline - #6

It has been a long while since I posted anything here, but the passing of Detroit Tiger great, Al Kaline, has inspired me. He began his career in the Motor City in 1953 at the tender age of 18—right out of high school.  He never once played in the minors, but wore that old English D until he retired in 1974.  

As a kid, my grandpa took me to Tiger Stadium on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull in the middle of Detroit, where we cheered for our favorite boys of summer—just the two of us.  Never mind that I was the only one in the family who would go with him.  You see, he believed in getting his money’s worth so we always attended double headers, but first we had to watch batting practice.  We would get to the park between 11-11:30 am on game day. The first game began around 1:00 and the second game followed after a short break.  Grandpa fed me all day long—popcorn, peanuts, hotdogs, ice cream.  You name it.  I ate it.

Kaline is a vivid part of those memories.  His major league record speaks for itself (3,097 hits, 399 homeruns, and 1,582 runs batted in, just for starters).  He was the Tiger you could always count on--the dependable Right Fielder or the hard-working First Baseman and then came the 1968 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.  Now that was baseball! Denny McClain! Bill Freehan! Willie Horton! What a team!  I still smile when I think about them.  

Kaline was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988--a well-deserved honor.  He remained with the Tigers and became an excellent announcer for the game.  He was a kind and quiet man who wore the #6 and it was only right that he passed away on the 6th day of April.  Mr. Kaline, you leave behind a wonderful legacy that will continue to inspire those of us who were lucky enough to see you play.  And if you run into my grandpa somewhere up there, make sure you say ‘hello’ and ask him about those double-headers he loved to watch—after baseball practice, of course!