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By Father Gabe Costa
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Dedicated to Lieutenant colonel Michael Jaye (Retired, U.S. Army)
Al Kaline always seemed like the ultimate professional. Even though he played for the Detroit Tigers, a team that was never cowed when they played my beloved Yankees, it was hard to root against No. 6.
He was not a big man, even for the 1960s. He certainly was not flamboyant. He was quiet, unflappable and dependable. He was a workman; the perfect laborer from Detroit.
Kaline never played a day of minor league baseball. He wore the Tigers’ uniform with class. He was the perfect No. 3 hitter, and quite possibly the best fielding right-fielder that many baseball fans ever saw.
Some of his accomplishments included:
- Played 22 years for the Detroit Tigers
- Won the American League batting title with a mark of .340 at the age of 22
- Accumulated 399 career home runs
- Had more that 1,500 runs batted in
- Recorded more than 4,850 total bases
- His career On-Base-Plus-Slugging mark was .855
- Won 10 Gold Gloves
- Member of the 1968 World Series Champions
- Was an American League All-Star from 1955 through 1967, and also in 1971 and 1974
- Ranks 27th in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for position players with 92.7
- Enshrined in Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980
Kaline was not the greatest Bengal ever — Ty Cobb pretty much has that designation secured. But I suspect that Kaline is the most beloved and respected of all the players who ever donned the uniform of the Detroit Tigers.
Where does Kaline rank all time among the best to ever play the game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…