It was a match made in baseball heaven
It was a match made in baseball heaven
A “keystone combination” is an old baseball term that refers to the second baseman and shortstop, the anchors – or “keystone” – of a team’s defense. Both players must have great range and arms.
It addition to being baseball’s longest, it is generally recognized as the game’s finest and most-consistent, both defensively and offensively.
Between the two, they totaled 2,819 double plays —- 1,527 for Whitaker, 1,292 for Trammell —- a major league record for a second baseman and shortstop. Even more impressive is the fact the two committed just 424 errors between them. They also hold the American League record for games played together (1,918).
Whitaker holds the Tigers’ team record for most career double plays at 1,527, while Trammell is fourth with 1,321. Second baseman Charlie Gehringer (1924-42) and first baseman Norm Cash (1960-74) are second and third, respectively, with 1,447 and 1,328.
Trammell won four Gold Gloves (1980-81, 1983-84), Whitaker three (1983-85). The two are members of a select group of eight keystone partners who won Gold Glove awards in the same season, doing so twice in 1983 and 1984.
Offensively, Trammell was a career .284 hitter, including a high of .343 in 1987, with 185 homers. Seven times in his 20-year career, he batted above .300. Whitaker hit .276 and 244 homers during his 19 seasons. In 1983, he batted a career-high .320.
“You know, you can talk about (Joe) DiMaggio’s 56-hit game hitting streak (1941) and some of these other records that will never be broken, well you’ll never see two players spend 19 years together like Lou and Alan did,” said the late Sparky Anderson, who managed the Tigers for 17 seasons (1979-95) before passing away in November 2010 of dementia at the age of 76.
“They were raised by the Tigers, brought up by the Tigers, played their entire careers with the Tigers, and had a love for the city and the uniform,” Anderson said. “They would have stayed Tigers forever.”
“You’ll never see it again, especially now with free agency and players moving from one team to another every two or three years,” Anderson said.
“It’s a remarkable record,” said the late Ernie Harwell, who broadcasted Tiger games 18 of the 19 years Whitaker and Trammell played together. “There’s no question Lou and Alan were extraordinary the way they lasted together.”
“I can think of a couple records that might never be broken like (Johnny) Vander Meer’s back-to-back no-hitters (for Cincinnati in 1938),” said Harwell, who died in May 2010 at the age of 92 of bile duct cancer. “Topping that with three in a row would be awfully tough.”
Ralph Houk, who managed the New York Yankees to three American League pennants and a pair of World Series crowns in 1961 and 1962, remembers the first time he saw Whitaker and Trammell after becoming the Tigers’ skipper in 1974.
“When I took the job at Detroit, general manager Jim Campbell told me he wanted me to take a look at two guys at one of our early spring camps in Lakeland (Fla.),” recalled Houk, who passed away at the age of 90 in July 2010. “I’ll never forget the first time I saw Trammell because he was wearing yellow shoes.”
Campbell was a “Tiger lifer” in the front office, first as vice-president and director of minor league operations (1960-62), then vice-president and general manager (1963-78), president and general manager (1979-83), and finally president and CEO (1984-90). He was the architect of two World Series championship teams: 1968, when the Tigers beat St. Louis in seven, and 1984, a five-game Series win over San Diego.
“Jim and I were very impressed with both Alan and Lou, who was playing third base at the time,” Houk said. “We talked about moving Lou to second because we already had a good third baseman in Detroit (Aurelio Rodriguez). Jim and I talked about bringing them up together late in 1977.”
“They became good friends,” Houk said. “They roomed together and really got to know each other. When two guys can spend time together, talk about baseball and the mistakes and good plays they made, it really helps. I had two players similar to that in (Bobby) Richardson and (Tony) Kubek with the Yankees. Those two didn’t turn out too bad.”
After Whitaker and Trammell led Montgomery, Ala., to the Southern League championship in 1977, the two were promoted to the parent club late in the season. Whitaker, then 20 years old, replaced Tito Fuentes and Trammell, 19, took over for Tom Veryzer.
“The following year (1978), their first full seasons, I knew they were good and I thought they’d play together for a long, long time,” Houk said.
“Lou made the switch from third base to second base look natural,” Trammell said. “The organization gets the credit for putting us together. Here we were, two young guys in 1977 who obviously had some ability going to the major leagues. Heck, Lou and I both got our first base hits off the same pitcher, Reggie Cleveland of Boston, in September of 1977.”
“I look at the 19-year record of our’s, and look at Davey Lopes and Bill Russell (of the Dodgers, 1973-81), who played together for nine years. Lou and I more than doubled that,” Trammell said. “Will it ever be broken? I don’t know. I think it’s highly unlikely the way the game is today with free agency, but never say never. I will say those 19 years are something both Lou and I can be proud of.”
“Lou and I played at a high level for a long time because of our preparation, passion and dedication,” Trammell said.
To date, no two players in any sport have been teammates continuously on the same team as long as Whitaker and Trammell. A look at Major League Baseball players who were teammates on one team the longest through 2006:
YRS. PLAYERS TEAM SEASONS
19 Lou Whitaker & Alan Trammell Tigers 1977-95
18 George Brett & Frank White Royals 1973-90
17 Robin Yount & Jim Gantner Brewers 1976-92
17 Jim Palmer & Mark Belanger Orioles 1965-81
17 Roberto Clemente & Bill Mazeroski Pirates 1956-1972
17 Max Carey & Babe Adams Pirates 1910-1926
Note: In comparison, the longest-running teammates in the National Basketball Association through 2007 were Karl Malone and John Stockton, who played together for 18 seasons (1986-2003) for the Utah Jazz.
Whitaker admits he was “disappointed” with the move from third to second.
“All my life I played third,” Whitaker said. “I had tears in my eyes when the organization moved me to second, but if I wanted the opportunity to move to the majors quickly, I had to make the change because they already had Rodriguez at third.”
Jim Leyland, who was Whitaker’s manager at Class A Lakeland (Fla.) of the Florida State League (FSL) in 1976 and is now the manager of the Detroit Tigers, didn’t want the organization to make the switch from third to second so quickly.
“They wanted me to switch him over toward the end of the (1976 FSL) season and I begged them,” Leyland recalled. “I said, ‘Look, I don’t think this is a good time. This guy is a top prospect and he’s going to be a big leaguer for a long time. I’d hate to take a chance and see him get hurt playing second base when someone slides into him.”
As Lakeland’s third baseman, Whitaker led Leyland’s crew to the 1976 FSL championship. He was also named the league’s player of the year with a .376 batting average.
“I convinced Jim Campbell and the Tigers to wait until the instructional league (that 1976 fall) to work with him and work with Eddie Brinkman at second,” Leyland said. “The rest is pretty much history. As it turned out, those two (Whitaker and Trammell) turned out to be one of the best (DP combinations) in the game.”
Brinkman worked in the Tigers’ minor-league organization after spending 15 seasons in the majors as a shortstop, including four with Detroit (1971-74). He was not an offensive threat (.224 career average), but he was an outstanding defensive player, turning more than a thousand DPs during his career. He won a Gold Glove in 1972 during an era when shortstops like Mark Belanger and Luis Aparicio were the perennial winners.
“As a third baseman, Lou was tremendous……absolutely tremendous,” Leyland said. “He made the transition easily. He had so much talent. He just played with instinct.”
“Those two were etched in stone forever. They were the talk of baseball for a lot of years.
When everyone talked about the Tigers, they’d say Trammell and Whitaker were unbelievable, and they were,” Leyland said.
“It all worked out,” Whitaker said. “I’ll tell you this, there will never, ever be two guys like Alan and myself who played as hard day-in-and-day-out as we did.”
Trammell credits that to constant infield practice.
“Infield practice never stopped. It was everyday,” Trammell said. “Timing is so important. Lou and I wanted to keep that edge. It was second nature where Lou would be (on the double play). That’s where the timing comes in. If someone else was playing second base, I had to take that split second to look at second base and that could cost you the double play.”
The two didn’t disappoint Houk, Campbell or Tiger fans in 1978. Whitaker hit .285 and Trammell .268 as the Tigers improved their record to 86-76 compared to 74-88 the previous season. In the field, they both had 95 double plays.
Houk became the Tigers’ skipper in 1974, replacing Joe Schultz who had taken over for Billy Martin during the 1973 season. Detroit suffered four straight losing seasons (1974-77) before things turned around in 1978 when the Tigers posted an 86-76. The addition of Whitaker and Trammell was attributed to the club’s turnaround. Houk retired after the 1978 season, but resurfaced in Boston where he managed the Red Sox from 1981-84. He concluded his 20 years as a manager with a record of 1,619 wins and 1,531 losses.
In 1979, the Tigers went through three managers —- Les Moss, Dick Tracewski and Sparky Anderson, who had been fired by Cincinnati following the 1978 season despite a 92-69 record, four National League pennants and two World Series titles.
Anderson had managed another “classic” keystone combination in Cincinnati in second baseman Joe Morgan and shortstop Davey Concepcion from 1972-78. He doesn’t dare compare the two double-play combinations.
Former Tiger teammate, pitcher Jack Billingham, saw similarities.
“Lou and Alan were pretty damn close to Morgan and Concepcion,” said Billingham, who played for both Cincinnati and Detroit. “I will say that Joe (Morgan) was the best player I ever played with.”
“I didn’t think Joe and Davey could ever be matched, but I played with Lou and Alan for two seasons (1978-79) and they just got better and better,” Billingham said. “They added two years to my career. Being a sinkerball pitcher, and having Lou and Alan backing me up allowed me to win 20-some games (actually 25) my last two seasons. Once those groundballs start sneaking through the infield, you’re in trouble. With Lou and Alan, I didn’t have that problem. You’re only as good as the people around you.”
During his 13 years in the major leagues, the right-handed pitcher won 145 games and posted a respectable 3.83 earned-run-average.
Anderson said there were a few differences between Whitaker and Trammell, “but not in ability.”
“Lou never worried about the history or the past,” Anderson said. “Alan loved to know the past history. He just loved the history of the game.”
“Lou was very quiet, but very durable,” Anderson continued. “He never made the game of baseball a life-and-death issue. He believed the game was to enjoy. He was a street player because he learned how to play the game in the street. He never put pressure on himself. He just came to the park everyday to play baseball.”
“When I played, I just went to the ballpark to play baseball, not to talk,” Whitaker said.
“Lou’s always been such a good person,” Anderson said. “Every once in a while —- and when I say that I mean every three years —- we’d sit down and talk. He never bragged about himself. He just loved to play the game.”
“Offensively, Lou had fun hitting….and he could hit with power,” Anderson said. “He didn’t bare down at the plate, whereas a guy like (Pete) Rose bared down every time he batted. And I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better two-strike hitter. He’d foul away ball after ball until he got on base with a hit or a walk.”
Whitaker’s relaxed style of play was mistaken by some as nonchalant. Not so, according to Trammell.
“Some people may have thought Lou was nonchalant, but that wasn’t true,” Trammell said. “They said the same thing about (Hall of Famer) Rod Carew, who was real smooth. Rod just glided. It was just the grace and style Lou and Rod had.”
“Lou was as tough mentally as anyone I’ve played with. And Lou was the best clutch hitter I played with.”
“It was just his mold of playing,” Harwell said. “It was so easy for Lou. He didn’t have the fire that a (Kirk) Gibson had. Lou went about it day-to-day.”
Kirk Gibson spent 17 seasons in the majors, 12 with the Tigers (1979-87 and 1993-95). A fierce competitor, he played the outfield and was the Tigers’ designated hitter. He is best remembered for his two-run, pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth inning off Oakland relief specialist Dennis Eckersley that propelled the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 5-4 victory over the Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Barely able to walk because of injuries, Gibson’s homer is replayed on television constantly, showing him limping around the bases, pumping his right arm up-and-down in celebration. His homer led the way for the Dodgers’ five-game World Series victory.
Whitaker avoided the hoopla and focused on playing baseball.
“I didn’t play baseball for records or to be in the Hall of Fame,” Whitaker said. “I played to win. It was a total team effort. It was always about the team.”
“Lou had everything he needed to be a great second baseman —- sure hands, good arm, he was great on the pivot at second base,” Harwell said. “He did everything required of a second baseman.”
Charlie Gehringer, the Hall of Famer who played second base for the Tigers for, ironically, 19 years (1924-42), once compared himself to Whitaker, saying he considered himself a better offensive player, but not defensively.
“Gehringer always loved Lou,” Tiger historian Lew Matlin said. “He said several times, ‘Well, I couldn’t field with Lou, but I could out-hit him.’”
As a matter of fact, several all-time Tiger teams list both Gehringer and Whitaker at second base.
Gehringer vs. Whitaker
The following is a quick statistical comparison of Tiger second basemen Charlie Gehringer and Lou Whitaker:
Seasons 19 19
Years 1924-42 1977-95
Batting average .320 .276
Runs scored 1,774 1,386
Base hits 2,839 2,369
Runs batted in 1,427 1,084
Home runs 184 244
Errors 310 189
Double plays 1,447 1,527
Assists 7,091 6,653
Putouts 5,446 4,771
Fielding percentage .976 .984
Trammell, meanwhile, had a lot of fire in his belly.
“Shortstops can be bias, but I always thought the shortstop was as much the key as anyone,” Trammell said. “I loved playing shortstop, playing up the middle (of the infield). I felt like a captain.”
Trammell’s defensive talents on the diamond was a result of fielding balls off his family home’s chimney when he was in elementary and high school.
“I used to mark off a box on the chimney and my goal was to throw the ball inside the box, then field the ball cleanly,” Trammell explained. “That was great for my hand-and-eye coordination.”
“To be a successful shortstop, you have to have the sixth sense on where all the guys should be,” Trammell said. “I was in tune. I loved playing and was always prepared. I always enjoyed the cat-and-mouse game…..where did the batter hit the ball before? We had to read the ball off the bat, pay attention and have to be able to react quickly.”
“Whenever there were two outs at the end of a game and there was a groundball hit to Tram, I’d start walking up the (dugout) steps because I knew the game was over,” Anderson said. “Alan had such sure, soft hands. There was no one better picking up the baseball. He had such a quick and accurate release. Every time he threw the ball, regardless of where he was on the field, it was thrown overhand.”
“I’ll never forget one day Trammell was taking some infield practice and (Hall of Famer) Pee Wee Reese happened to be around,” Anderson recalled. “I asked Pee Wee who did Trammell remind him of. The answer was Pee Wee Reese. That’s just how good Alan was.”
“Trammell had great consistency,” Harwell said. “In the clutch, you wanted the ball hit to Alan. Fundamentally he was so sound. He concentrated on the game and brought a great passion to it. He had great respect and love for baseball.”
As Whitaker and Trammell enjoyed more and more personal success, do did Anderson’s Tigers, who posted winning records every season from 1978 through 1983.
Then came 1984, the year Detroit ran away with everything. The Tigers got off to an amazing 35-5 start and coasted to a 104-58 record to easily win the American League East title by 15 games over Toronto.
Trammell led the Tigers with a .314 average while adding 14 homers and 69 runs-batted-in despite missing 43 games due to tendonitis. Whitaker chipped in with a .289 mark, second-highest on the club, plus 13 homers and 56 RBIs. Because the Tigers clinched the AL-East title so early, the keystone mates were rested down the stretch of the regular season in preparation for the playoffs. As a result, they’re DP totals were slightly down: Whitaker had 83, Trammell 71.
Dave Bergman was at first, while Howard Johnson patrolled third. The outfield featured Chet Lemon, Larry Herndon and Gibson. The catcher was Lance Parrish. Darrell Evans was a potent designated hitter with 16 homers and 63 RBIs.
Anderson had Barbaro Garbey, Tom Brookens and Ruppert Jones coming off the bench.
Pitching-wiser, the Tigers were loaded, with Jack Morris (19-11), Dan Petry (18-8), Milt Wilcox (17-8), and relief pitchers Willie Hernandez (9-3, 32 saves) and Aurelio Lopez (10-1, 14 saves). Hernandez was named both the American League’s Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner that season.
Morris set the tone for the season in the fourth game with a 4-0, no-hit, eight-strikeout victory over the White Sox in Chicago. The Tigers won their first nine games, lost to Kansas City, then rattled off seven straight wins for a 16-1 start. A nine-game win streak in mid-May put them at 35-5. By the end of June, Detroit was 55-21 and, for all practical purposes, the race in the American League East was over. In one-run games, they were 25-11.
In the American League Championship Series, the Tigers, led by Trammell’s .364 average, knocked out Kansas City in three games, then took the San Diego Padres in five in the World Series. The Padres were managed by Dick Williams, who won a pair of World Series crowns with the Oakland Athletics in 1972 and 1973. He was also the manager of the 100-to-1 long-shot Boston Red Sox, who went from ninth place in 1966 to the American League pennant in 1967 before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven World Series games.
The Tigers took the 1984 Series opener, 3-2, thanks to Herndon’s two-run homer in the fifth inning and Morris’s complete-game, eight hitter.
In Game 2, the Padres overcame an early 3-0 deficit to post a 5-3 win, the difference being a three-run homer by the Padres’ Kurt Bevacqua.
The Tigers then won the next three games, 5-2, 4-2 and 8-4 behind the pitching of Wilcox, Morris and Petry.
In the fifth and final game, the Padres closed to 5-4 in the eighth, but Gibson put it out of reach with a three-run blast that made the count 8-4.
Trammell was named the World Series’ Most Valuable Player based on his 9-for-20 hitting performance (.450). The nine hits tied a record for a five-game World Series. He also had two homers and six runs-batted-in. Whitaker batted .278 with a pair of doubles. His six runs scored tied a record for a five-game Series.
“We had great defensive players, we had great pitching,” Whitaker said. “We did it all. We made very few mistakes.”
“Lou and Alan were a big, big part of that 35-5 streak and 1984 championship team,” Harwell recalled. “Whitaker led off and he’d get on base. Then Trammell would bat second and he’d get on. Before you knew it, the Tigers would have a couple of first-inning runs on the board for their pitchers to work with.”
Anderson was named the American League’s Manager of the Year. More important, he became the first manager to win World Series titles in both leagues. He won a pair in Cincinnati in 1975 and 1976 in the National League, and the 1984 AL crown with the Tigers. The only other manager to achieve World Series crowns in both leagues is Tony LaRussa, who won in 1989 with Oakland and in 2006 with St. Louis.
Following third-place finishes in the American League East in 1985 and 1986, the Tigers nailed down the division title on the final day of the 1987 season with a major-league best record of 98-64. The Tigers entered the final weekend series at home one game behind Toronto, but swept the three games by scores of 4-3, 3-2 and 1-0 to finish two games ahead.
Doyle Alexander, whom the Tigers picked up midway through the 1987 season from Atlanta after a 5-10 start, pitched seven strong innings in the 4-3 win to run his Detroit record to 9-0. Trammell’s homer in the third proved to be the game winner. Rookie relief pitcher Mike Henneman worked the final two innings for Detroit to pick up his seventh save.
In the 3-2 victory that went 12 innings, Morris pitched splendid ball for nine innings, then the Tigers got three scoreless relief innings from the right-handed Henneman, who ran his record to 11-3.
The Tigers nailed down the division title when Frank Tanana hurled a complete-game, 1-0 masterpiece. The lone run came on Herndon’s solo homer in the second.
In that final three-game series, Whitaker batted .384, Trammell .375.
Following the last out of the final regular-season game, Whitaker pulled second base out of the infield dirt and signed it: “To Alan Trammell, 1987 AL MVP, – Lou Whitaker.”
Trammell had an incredible season, batting .343 with 205 hits, 28 homers, 105 runs-batted-in, 109 runs, 34 doubles and a .551 slugging average from the cleanup position. He was the first Tiger since Al Kaline in 1955 to collect 200 hits and 100 RBIs in the same season. In the final month of the season, he hit .416.
Despite the Tigers’ shortstop’s heroics, George Bell of Toronto was named the American League’s 1987 MVP by a 21-point margin over Trammell. Bell hit .308 with 47 homers and 134 RBIs, but he had a rough final week of the season, going 4-for-27, as the Blue Jays lost their final seven games.
In the 1987 American League Championship Series, the Tigers “got waxed,” Trammell said, by the 85-77 Minnesota Twins, 4 games to 1. The Tigers struggled at the plate, including Trammell (.200) and Whitaker (.176), in the surprisingly short series. Pitcher Bert Blyleven picked up a pair of victories for the Twins, while Frank Viola and relief specialist Jeff Reardon each posted wins. In the World Series, Minnesota took down St. Louis in six games.
The Tigers went through a playoff dry spell until 2006, when Jim Leyland led the club to the World Series, only to fall in five games to St. Louis.
From 1988 through 1995, the Tigers experienced some ups and downs. In 1988, the Tigers finished one game behind Boston in the American League East, then lost 103 the following season. From 1990 through 1995, the Tigers suffered four losing seasons.
Both Whitaker and Trammell continued to play well, though. As a matter of fact, in Whitaker’s final three seasons (1993-95), he batted .290, .301 and .293.
For his career, Whitaker averaged less than 10 errors a season. He also played in 2,308 games at second, third on baseball’s all-time list for second basemen behind Eddie Collins (1906-28) at 2,650 and Joe Morgan (1963-84) at 2,527.
In 1992, “Sweet Lou,” as he was called by Tiger fans, reached two career milestones, recording both his 2,000th hit and his 200th home run.
Meanwhile, an elbow injury that first surfaced in 1983 came back in 1992 to haunt Trammell, limiting him to 28 games. In 1993, however, he rebounded with a .329 batting average, then spent the next three years playing a limited role (216 total games) before retiring in 1996. Trammell is just one of three players to play for the Tigers for at least 20 seasons, the others being Hall of Famers Al Kaline (1953-74) and Ty Cobb (1905-26), both of whom spent 22 years with the club.
Anderson retired at the age of 61 after the 1995 season, which saw the Tigers post a 60-84 mark. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 by the Veterans Committee with a career managerial record of 2,194 wins and 1,834 losses.
For the time being, the Hall of Fame doesn’t appear to be in the picture for Whitaker and Trammell. In 2001, Whitaker’s first year on the ballot, he received 2.91 percent of the vote. A player needs at least 5 percent to remain on future ballots, so he’ll have to depend on the Veterans Committee.
Trammell has been on the ballot since 2002, but has come up short of the necessary 75 percent of the vote for election by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
“When I look at the Hall of Fame voting for Lou, I think it’s shameful,” Anderson said. “Lou is one of the finest second basemen in the game. He ranks among the top 10 ever to play the position.”
“From those Tiger teams I managed, I think three should be in the Hall of Fame: Jack Morris, Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell,” Anderson said. “They really gave to the game. They said that Frank Robinson (the player) could carry a team for three weeks. Well, Jack, Lou and Alan could carry our Tiger teams for weeks. Those three belong in the Hall of Fame.”
Morris, a righty, won 254 and lost 186 games during his 18 seasons (1977-90) in the majors, 14 of which were with Detroit, where he was 198-150. He finished his career with the Twins (1991), Blue Jays (1992-93) and Indians (1994), compiling a 56-36 mark.
In the postseason, Morris won two games for the Tigers in the 1984 World Series and two more for the Twins in the 1991 Fall Classic. In 13 career postseason starts, he posted an impressive 6-1 record.
“The writers who covered the Tigers saw our excellence everyday,” Whitaker said of himself and Trammell. “Those writers who maybe saw us play once or twice, they’re the (Hall of Fame) voters. Alan and I belong there (in the Hall).”
Tiger fans agree, saying that the offensive and defensive statistics of Whitaker and Trammell are comparable to former Chicago Cub second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who made the Hall in 2005, and former St. Louis shortstop Ozzie Smith, a member of the Class of 2002.
“It’s been a mystery to me,” Anderson said. “Baseball’s greatest double-play combination belongs in the Hall of Fame. There should be no question about it.”
Trammell became manager of the Tigers from 2003-2005, compiling a record of 186-300, before he was let go. After losing 119 games in 2003, Trammell’s club posted a 72-90 mark the following season, an improvement of 29 wins. In 2005, the Tigers stood 42-44 at the All-Star break, but injuries to key players and inexperienced players caused them to fade the second half of the season to finish 71-91.
His guidance and leadership were instrumental in the Tigers’ success in 2006 under Leyland, who acknowledged that Trammell had set the table. Despite his three losing seasons, Trammell re-established professionalism and pride in the Tiger organization.
Prior to the 2006 World Series, Leyland paid tribute to Trammell and his former coaching staff that was let go after 2005. “We’re here now with a different staff, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how hard those guys worked,” Leyland said of Trammell and his staff. “They worked their tails off. I’m the fortunate one. I came in and reaped the benefits of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”
When it became apparent he was going to be dismissed as the Tigers’ skipper, Trammell said, “Whether I’m there or not, I’ll always be a Tiger, and I’ll always root for the Tigers.”
Tiger fans had the opportunity to thank Trammell for his years of service in Detroit prior to Game 2 of the 2006 World Series when he was introduced and received a long, thunderous standing ovation.
Prior to becoming the Tigers’manager, Trammell was a baseball operations assistant for Detroit, then the club’s hitting coach in 1999. He spent the 2000-2002 seasons as a coach with the San Diego Padres.
Today, he’s the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs under new manager Lou Piniella.
Whitaker is also enjoying life and his privacy in Lakeland, Fla. He’s a regular at the Tigers’ spring training camp in Lakeland, helping out wherever he can. Like Whitaker the player, he prefers to remain quiet and stay out of the spotlight.
That was difficult, though, in 1985 when he was named to the American League All-Star Team. En route to Minnesota for the Mid-Summer Classic, Whitaker left his Tiger uniform in his car at the airport in Detroit. Once he arrived in Minnesota, he was forced to purchase a replica Tiger jersey from a vendor and write his name and “No. 1” on the back with a black magic marker. He wore a Tigers’ mesh hat and borrowed a glove. Obviously, he was in the national spotlight. He then went 0-for-2 in the American League’s 6-1 loss.By John Valerino
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