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1957 Al Kaline
- OF, RF, CF, LF, 3B, 1B, DH
- December 19, 1934
- 6' 1"
- 175 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 6-25-1953 with DET
- Allstar Selections:
- 1957 GG, 1958 GG, 1959 GG, 1961 GG, 1962 GG, 1963 GG, 1964 GG, 1965 GG, 1966 GG, 1967 GG, 1968 LG, 1969 HA, 1973 RC
- Hall of Fame:
Al Kaline won a batting title at the age of 20, won 10 Gold Glove Awards, hit .379 in the 1968 World Series, and reached the coveted 3,000 hit mark despite several nagging injuries in his career. In 1980, he became just the 10th player elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, and at the time of his retirement, Kaline and Ty Cobb were the only Tigers to ever play 20 or more seasons in a Detroit uniform.
#25 (1953-1954), #6 (1954-1974)
"The kid murders you with his speed and arm. ... He's made some catches I still don't believe. ... I sort of hate to think what'll happen when he grows up." â€” Casey Stengel, 1955 "There's a hitter. In my book he's the greatest right-handed hitter in the league." â€” Ted Williams in 1955. "I wouldn't trade him for Mantle OR Mays." â€” Bob Scheffing, who managed Kaline from 1961-1963. "I don't want to sound like one of those guys who manages in Chicago and says this Chicago is the best, then manages in St. Louis and says this St. Louis player is the best. But I've been watching Kaline... and he's the best player who ever played for me. Jackie Robinson was the most exciting runner I ever had... and Hank Aaron was the best hitter. But for all-around ability, I mean hitting, fielding, running and throwing, I'll go with Al." â€” Chuck Dressen, who was Kaline's manager from 1963-1966. "Al Kaline, one of my all-time heroes, getting paid for signing autographs! What's next? Boy Scouts charging for helping little old ladies across the street?" â€” Jack Brownson, in a letter to the editors of The Sporting News, June 7, 1982 "No he did not, he was a gentleman. It would have to be a real borderline pitch for him to even turn his head." â€” umpire Larry McCoy responding to the question of whether Kaline argued any of his calls.
"Baseball is a great job. You play six months a year and people do everything for you. All you have to do is play the games." "If you think you can hit, two strikes won't mean anything to you." ï¿½ Kaline on the importance of confidence at the plate. "I don't deserve such a salary. I didn't have a good season last year. This ballclub has been so fair and decent to me that I'd prefer to have you give it to me when I rate it." ï¿½ refusing the Tigers' offer in 1971 of the club's first $100,000 contract. Kaline earned that salary in 1972. "The secret of being a good hitter is to wait for your pitch to hit, and then hit it." "I'd love to go to the Masters golf tournament and the Kentucky Derby, but I've never been able to. On the Fourth of July, I'd love to be at a lake instead of at the ballpark for two." ï¿½ Kaline in 1974, on his plans for retirement.
Kaline never spent a single day in the minor leagues. He was signed by Detroit scout Ed Katalinas just past midnight on evening of his high school graduation, on June 19, 1953. Kaline had been a sandlot star in Baltimore as a youth. He hit .609 in American Legion ball in 1951, a city record. In his four years of high school at Baltimore Southern High, Kaline batted .333, .418, .469, and .488, earning selection to the All-Maryland team each year.
In Kaline's final season he was used as a designated hitter. The following year, longtime teammate Willie Horton became the team's DH. Kaline thought he could have played longer, but business interests allowed him to retire when he did. "I believe I could have played two more years without embarrassing myself," Kaline said.
Kaline is hard to peg. After his batting title season of '55 he had several other great years at the plate, but he was always running into a wall or something and missing 3-5 weeks of the season. He was Fred Lynn before Fred Lynn. After 1955 he had two more seasons in his entire career in which he played at least 150 games, and one of them was 1956. So a best season is difficult to determine because he never amassed 30 homers, though he would have on at least four occasions had he stayed healthy. In 1962, he was having his best power year when he broke his collar bone. He had hit 29 homers and driven in 94 runs in less than 100 games. His batting averages seem low compared to today's standards: .293, .281, .288, .308, .287, .272, .278, and .294 in one eight-season stretch. But those figures are far more impressive when you realize that the league he was playing in was batting between .230 and .250. His .296 batting average for the 1960s is the best for players with at least 1,000 games. The 1955 season saw him hit .340 and win the title at the youngest age ever. He smacked 200 hits, leading the AL. He scored 121 runs and plated 102. Throughout his career he was a very patient hitter, even at a young age. In 1956 his BB/K ratio was 82 to 57. He had several very good years, but his failure to play a full schedule when he was at his best, cost him some accolades.
Al Kaline played at least 100 games in 19 straight seasons (1954-1972), tying a mark held by Tris Speaker.
Al Kaline's batting average of .322 (37 hits in 115 at-bats) is the fifth-highest in history for players with at least 100 at-bats off the bench.
Kaline was offered a coaching position with the Tigers after he retired as a aplayer in 1974, but he refused. He wanted to spend time with his automobile parts manufacturing company, Kaline, Inc. The next spring, he served as a spring training coach with the team, and eventually took a job as broadcaster for the Tigers.
Before 1953 Season: Signed by the Detroit Tigers as an amateur free agent (bonus baby). Kaline was signed by scout Ed Katalinas just a few hours after he graduated from high school. At the time he signed the contract he was wearing the suit he was going to wear for his graduation celebration.
His throwing arm. There are still people attending ballgames who can tell you stories about Kaline's arm. For every person in Pittsburgh who can tell tales of Roberto Clemente's arm, there's another guy in Detroit who can tell you about Kaline. In one of his first seasons in the majors, Dale Mitchell hit a liner to right that Kaline doive for and barely missed. The ball trickled away from Kaline as Mitchell dug for what he thought would be a sure double. Kaline grabbed the ball and fired it to second from a sitting position, retiring Mitchell by a foot. In a game against the White Sox in his second season, Kaline used his powerful right arm to thwart several rallies. The Sox were a running team, known for their aggresive style on the basepaths. Early in the game, Freddie Marsh came around from second base trying to score on a single to Kaline in right. Al threw him out at home plate. The following inning, Minnie Minoso attempted to stretch a single down the right field line into a double, but Kaline nabbed him at second with a perfect throw. Later in the contest, Chico Carrasquel tested Kaline's arm, trying to go from first to third on a single, but the young Tiger outfielder nailed him for his third assist of the game. The nine assists he recorded in 1954 were the most he ever had in his career. Essentially, opponents stopped running on Kaline's arm.
Inability to stay healthy.
Kaline collected his 3,000th career hit on September 24, 1974, in his homewotn of Baltimore, against the Orioles. The hit was a double off Baltimore lefty Dave McNally.
On April 17, 1955, in Detroit, Kaline belted three homers against the Kansas City Athletics. Two of the home runs came in Detroit's nine-run sixth inning, tying a record. The last American Leaguer to do it had been Joe DiMaggio.
Kaline was six-foot, two icnhes tall and weighed around 135 pounds when he entered the big leagues as an 18-year old in 1953. Two seasons later, when he won the batting title, he weighed 157 pounds. He filled out to 180-185 pounds for the balance of his career. he had thin, light brown hair during his playing career, and has blue eyes.
Kaline and Cobb
In 1955, Kaline broke Ty Cobb's record to become the youngest player to win a batting title. Kaline was one day younger in 1955 than Cobb had been in 1907, when "The Georgia Peach" won his first title. The two Tiger batting champs met each other in the late 1950s. "I'd always heard what a fierce man Ty Cobb was, but when I met him... he was very mild mannered," Kaline said of their meeting. As was his habit, Cobb gave the young Tiger outfielder hitting advice. "He told me 'Always bear down, because there'll come a time when you won't be able to bear down,' meaning that there'll come a time when you won't be able to play," said Kaline.
In 1955, Kaline hit .357 during the day (112 games), and .298 at night (40 games). He hit safely in 31 of the first 33 games of the 1955 season... In '55, Kaline batted .451 against the A's, .369 vs. the White Sox, .364 vs. the Senators, .333 against Cleveland, .305 vs. the Yankees, .274 vs. the Orioles, and .273 against Red Sox pitching... Kaline hit just .200 at Fenway that season, but hit a robust .467 in Memorial Stadium in Kansas City... At the age of 11, while attending Westport Grammar School, Kaline tossed a softball 173 feet, six inches, setting a Baltimore elementary school record... Kaline averaged 22.5 points per game in his senior year at Southern High in Baltimore, helping his team to the Maryland state basketball title.
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