Detroit Tiger great Al Kaline has passed away today. The 18-time All-Star, World Series winner (1968), 10 time Gold Glove winner, the 1955 American League batting champ and Hall of Famer passed away at the age of 85.
Even though the alkaline batteries were not named after him, Kaline could have modeled for them. His career spanned 22 years, all with the Detroit Tigers. Kaline played in more games and hit more homers than anyone else in the history of the Detroit Tigers.
He broke into the majors on June 25, 1953. Apparently, the Tigers were very high on him as he didn’t play a single game in the minors and debuted in the Majors right from high school. He signed with them the morning after he graduated from high school and only a week later he debuted in the bigs.
Kaline wasn’t quite born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was a broom maker and his mother scrubbed floors. As he was a so-called bonus baby, he signed for a signing bonus of $35,000 with which he paid off the mortgage for his parents. Despite their poor life, his parents did everything in their might to let him play baseball.
In 1955, Kaline became the youngest player, at 20, to win the batting crown when he batted .340. Even though he was a mighty hitter, he always stood in the shadows of sluggers like Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, and Roberto Clemente.
At the age of 39, Al Kaline retired after getting his 3,000th base hit. He fell one home run shy of the 400 plateaus but the latter was no reason for HOF writers to vote him in on the first occasion in 1980.
Not only was his uniform number (6) retired by the Detroit Tigers, he was also honored by the city of Detroit as Cherry Street, which ran behind the left-field stands at Tiger Stadium, was renamed Kaline Drive in his honor.
Kaline was one of those players that will be remembered for both his offense as his defense. In one game, he managed to throw out a runner at home, at third and at second in three consecutive innings.
Kaline’s cause of death was not available.