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Remembering The Great Al Kaline

April 8, 2020

Often, even before the great player, Al Kaline died days back at the age of 85, I played the great broadcaster Ernie Harwell’s call of a seminal moment in Detroit Tigers’ history.

They clinch the ’72 A.L. East title when Al comes in and grabs Ben Oglivie’s drive to right. Harwell’s superb broadcasting call includes “(it is) fitting that the great veteran, Al Kaline makes (catches) the final out of the ballgame.”

Yes, so appropriate and so deserving, as was the even greater result of Kaline in his first and only World Series, playing great and the Tigers overcoming a (3-1) World Series deficit, to take the 1968 crown. I have posted regarding such in the past and will do so in the future. There is so much to it!

Sure, as with most people, especially “ball fans,” I am partial to “my time” and the players of that time.

In any list I compile, often in “daydreaming reflection,” I include Al Kaline as a true great from that/”my time.”

He could hit, field and certainly throw with the best of them. In looking back, how appropriate (there is that word again), he won the first Roberto Clemente Award. (Both Al and Roberto had superb throwing arms which pales next to their generosity and kindness.)

There were 3,007 hits and 399 home runs and by one day the youngest player to win a batting crown, that in 1955.

The Detroit Tigers have been blessed with some truly great players, certainly Ty Cobb, who won 12 batting crowns, but never was on a World Series winner. Another was Hank Greenberg, who endured  anti-Semitism, once hit 58 home runs in a season and played on 2 World Series winners with the Tigers.

Al Kaline is another and I believe the 1968 title, for many reasons was the best in Tigers’ lore and one of the best for any team.

So much happened in the world that year! In Detroit, (riots and a near pennant miss in a great American League race, that word with a different meaning, sadly apropos of the riots) so much the year before.

In game 5/’68 World Series, Al delivered the biggest hit of his great career, a bloop, 2 run single vs game 3 Cards’ pitching star, Joe Hoerner, that gave the Tigers the lead to stay in that game.

The hit transformed a deficit, the last one the Tigers faced in that ’68 “classic,”  as they also won games 6 and 7, and their first title in 23 (Willie Horton’s #) years.

Then and now, how “appropriate” Al Kaline seized the moment, the title to me, (not him), more important than his Hall induction (even though he did make it on the first ballot. Then again, Joe DiMaggio did not), the greatest prize in Al’s superb career.

Perhaps there is a better place to which he is headed. Surely we can daydream and reflect, as I do regarding “my time” greats such as Al Kaline.

Click below for a brief previous post about the great Al Kaline.

Thoughts regarding Al Kaline


Al Kaline 1957.jpg

Al Kaline, pictured above.



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