I have been a fan of the Detroit Tigers since the Summer of 1984. That means I am lucky enough to vividly remember my baseball team winning a World Series title, and waiting for them to win another. Since every year the team itself asks me who my Tiger is I decided to write about my favorite 25 Tigers since I became a fan…at eight years old…This has less to do with performance as it does with whatever intangible qualities Tigers’ players have…I mean this is the town that loved Brandon Inge and Don Kelly…and no neither one of those players will make my list…With all of that being said…
#1 Short Stop Alan Trammell
Alan Trammell is pretty much the Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Tigers. He played his entire career here, and while the Tigers do not have a Captain if they did Alan would have been it during his playing career. He would have a very forgettable run as skipper of the team he played his entire career for, and after coaching stints with the Chicago Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks he returned to the Tigers organization. Trammell is our adopted Tigers son.
Like his double play partner, Lou Whitaker, Alan debuted with the big club in 1977 and would play through the 1996 season. He would represent the Tigers in six All Star Games, win four Golden Gloves, and three Silver Slugger awards. He was the MVP of the ’84 World Series and hit the go ahead home run in game five. One of the biggest reasons he is not in the Hall of Fame is that he was never the dominant player at his position.He played in the same era as Cal Ripken Jr., and later Barry Larkin, and let us not forget Ozzie Smith who was also drafted by the Detroit Tigers.
The second biggest reason he is not in the Hall is that he was screwed out of the MVP in 1987. By far his best year in Detroit, and he did something out of the ordinary for a short stop of that era…he hit clean up. He would hit .343 with 28 home runs, 105 RBI, 205 hits, steal 21 bases, and have a .402 OBP. Trammell without a doubt was a complete player, and by far the most glaring oversight of ’84 Tigers not to be elected to Cooperstown.
After retiring as a player, and a coaching stint with his hometown San Diego Padres, Trammell would return as Manager of the Tigers in 2003. He would manage a team that lost 119 games that year and who would only win 71 and 72 games in the next two. Before we right him off as a failure let us remember those teams were devoid of any legit Major League Talent. Dave Dombrowksi would open up the checkbook and bring Ivan Rodriquez to town in 2004 but Trammell’s style and the high priced free agent’s personality would not mix very well. Let us not forget that beyond big money free agents being added to the mix, the year after they let Trammell go this team made it to the World Series. Much of the young talent on that team credits Trammell and Kirk Gibson for getting them ready to play baseball at that level.
When I started getting hip to baseball, and cheering for the Tigers it was Alan Trammell who I formed an emotional connection with. He was among the first Tigers I would meet and get his autograph and for 20 years he was a class act here in Detroit .
Yes it bothers me a lot the Tigers let Gary Sheffield and Ian Kinsler wear his #3.