“You’ve got to practice the way you play.”
Baseball great Al Kaline passed away last week at age 85. Al Kaline spent his entire 22 year Major League career with the Detroit Tigers. Kaline was a 15-time All-Star who was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1980. He finished his career with 3007 hits and 399 home runs. In 1955, at age 20, Kaline led the American League in hitting – batting .340. Al Kaline remains the youngest player ever to win a batting title. Kaline also ran well; he was an excellent outfielder with a strong throwing arm who won 10 Gold Gloves.
Al Kaline was consistently great; however, he was at his best in the clutch! He appeared in one World Series (1968) and batted .379 and helped the Tigers overcome a 3 games to 1 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals. Kaline also excelled in his other Post-Season appearance – the 1972 American League Championship Series. Al Kaline was the best right fielder in the American League for most of his 22 MLB seasons. Al Kaline came to Victory Field in Indianapolis five years ago. I had the pleasure of interviewing him. He was kind, considerate, outgoing, and as sharp as could be! Kaline played a major role with the Tigers in his post playing days; first as a broadcaster and then as a special assistant to the General Manager.
Those of us who were privileged to watch him play always will remember the dedication, passion, and intensity that he brought to the Ballpark every day. Those qualities helped make him become a great player!