Good morning Northern Michigan!
Back before Miggy. Or Morris. Or Trammel and Whittaker.
For those of us who are Tigers fans of a certain age, we lost the greatest Tiger of our generation this week: Al Kaline. Although his 399 home runs, 3,007 hits, 1,582 RBI and 1,622 runs scored are enough to stamp him as one of baseball’s all-time greats, Kaline has been a staple of the Detroit Tigers baseball community since he retired in 1974.
He made his way from the field to the broadcast booth with George Kell, back to the field to nurture a young Kirk Gibson, and eventually retiring with the front office.
(Warning … Old guy memory coming!)
My first memory of Al Kaline was when I was about 6-7. My grandmother, Mary Holland, had bought me my first transistor radio. I couldn’t wait to get home to try it out.
That radio was a little gray plastic model that sat snugly inside a black leather case. This thing was so awesome at the time it even had a mono ear plug so you could hear the game in peace and quiet.
As I climbed into bed with my flashlight, I tuned the radio to 760 AM (WJR), the station that carried the Tigers at the time.
Just as the station started to come into focus, Ernie Harwell called Al Kaline’s name. In my mind’s eye, I could see him stride toward home plate, bigger than life.
“Ball one,” you could hear the ump say. As the second pitch came in you could hear the CRACK of the bat.
“Back, back, back,” Harwell said, his voice crackling with excitement.
It was a long fly ball caught at the warning track at Tiger Stadium.
My first memory of the Detroit Tigers and Al Kaline may not have been a crucial hit, but it is my memory of one of the greatest Tigers ever.
Quote of the day is from Bud Holland:
“Stay home and stay safe. If not for yourself, at least for the people around you.”
What is on the agenda?