By Father Gabe Costa
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Dedicated to Lieutenant colonel Michael Jaye (Retired, U.S. Army)

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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.

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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.

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Where does Kaline rank all time among the best to ever play the game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…