Former Tiger Al Kaline dies at age 85
By: Mike Stiles - Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Al Kaline (photo courtesy of AP)

(DETROIT) - Al Kaline, a Hall of Famer who played all 22 years of his career in Detroit, earning the nickname "Mr. Tiger,"  died Monday, a team official confirmed. Kaline was 85. Kaline, an All-Star in 15 seasons and a 10-time Gold Glove winner in right field, retired shortly after recording his 3,000th hit in 1974 and joined the Tigers' broadcasting team. He continued to work for the Tigers after his retirement from the booth in 2002. He became the first Tiger to have his number retired, with the "No. 6" by which he was known in the clubhouse going up on the walls in 1980. He was also elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame that year, his first on the ballot. Tigers Chairman and CEO Christopher Ilitch said in a statement that baseball lost a titan. Ilitch says anyone who knew Al Kaline would describe his gentle soul and passion for baseball as an unbelievably powerful combination, making him one of the most respected players in Major League Baseball history. The cause of death was not immediately known, but the Detroit News reported that Kaline had recently suffered a stroke. Born and raised in Baltimore, Kaline joined the Tigers right out of high school, making his major league debut in 1953. By 1955, he had become the youngest player ever to win the American League batting title and finished second to Yogi Berra in voting for the AL MVP. Kaline made his lone appearance in a World Series in 1968, on the Tigers team led by pitchers Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich. Kaline had been sidelined for part of the season with a broken arm, and when he returned he was used mostly as a pinch hitter or first baseman because the outfield trio of Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley and Jim Northrup was playing well. When the Tigers clinched the pennant, Kaline went to manager Mayo Smith and told him that he didn't deserve to start in the World Series. Smith ignored him and played Kaline, who batted .379, hit two home runs and drove in eight as the Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. Major League Baseball presented Kaline in 1973 with the Roberto Clemente Award honoring the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, community involvement and contribution to his team. Kaline finished his career with 3,007 hits, 399 home runs, the most by anyone in history who never hit 30 homers in a season. He also had 1,583 RBI's and a .297 career batting average.