Right Field – Al Kaline
Al Kaline’s number 6 was the first number ever retired by the Tigers and earned the nickname “Mr. Tigers” for his great playing career and continued work with the organization following his playing days.
Like another former Tigers outfielder, Ty Cobb, Kaline was an AL batting champion by age 20, taking over the distinction of being the youngest player to ever win the AL batting title, which had been held by Cobb since 1907.
Although not known as a power hitter, Kaline posted respectable home run totals over the years such that he became, and still stands as, the franchise leader in career home runs at 399. He fell one short of the 400 home run mark but it was another milestone he was chasing as his career came to an end. Kaline became the 12th player in MLB history to reach the 3,000th hit mark on September 24, 1974 and announced his intention to retire after the season.
Billy Martin, who managed Kaline during his three seasons in Detroit, was effusive in his praise of Kaline saying, “I have always referred to Al Kaline as ‘Mister Perfection’. He does it all – hitting, fielding, running, throwing – and he does it with that extra touch of brilliancy that marks him as a super ballplayer.”
Having never spent a day in the minor leagues, Kaline’s career stretched 22 seasons – all with the Tigers. He was an All-Star in 15 of those seasons, a ten-time Gold Glove winner and while he was never named the AL’s Most Valuable Player, he finished in the top ten in voting nine times, including runner-up finishes in 1955 and 1963.
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