Al Kaline

Al Kaline
Al Kaline

Right fielder
Born: December 19, 1934 (1934-12-19) (age 76)
Baltimore, Maryland
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
June 25, 1953 for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 1974 for the Detroit Tigers
Career statistics
Batting average     .297
Hits     3,007
Home runs     399
Runs batted in     1,583
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction     1980
Vote     88.3% (first ballot)

Albert William "Al" Kaline (play /ˈkln/; born December 19, 1934 in Baltimore, Maryland) is a former Major League Baseball right fielder. He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.[1][2] Kaline played his entire 22-year baseball career with the Detroit Tigers.[1] Kaline still works for the Tigers as a front office official.[3] Because of his lengthy career and longtime association with the Tigers organization, Kaline's nickname is "Mr. Tiger."[4]

For most of his career, Kaline played in the outfield, mainly as a right fielder, where he was known for his strong throwing arm.[5] Near the end of his career, he also played as first baseman and, in his last season, was the Tigers' designated hitter.


Major League Baseball career

Kaline in 1957

Kaline bypassed the minor league system and joined the team directly from Baltimore's Southern High School as an 18-year-old "bonus baby" signee, receiving $35,000 ($287,428 as of 2011),[6] to sign with the Tigers.[7][8] He made his major league debut on June 25, 1953 in Philadelphia as a late-inning replacement for outfielder Jim Delsing. Kaline wore No. 25 during his rookie campaign, but asked teammate Pat Mullin for his No. 6 after the 1953 season ended. Kaline, who was also known simply as "Six" in the Tiger clubhouse, wore the number for the rest of his major league playing career.

In 1955, at age 20, Kaline ended the season with a .340 batting average, becoming the youngest player ever to win the American League batting title.[9] During the 1955 season, Kaline became the 13th man in major league history to hit two home runs in the same inning, became the youngest to hit three home runs in one game, and finished the year with 200 hits, 27 home runs and 102 RBIs.[1][10] He also finished second to Yogi Berra in the American League's 1955 Most Valuable Player Award voting.[11] Kaline followed in 1956 with a .314 batting average with 27 home runs and 128 RBIs.[1] He led the league in outfield assists with 18 in 1956[12] and again in 1958 with 23.[13] In 1963 Kaline hit .312 with 27 home runs and 101 RBIs to finish second to Elston Howard in the American League's Most Valuable Player Award voting.[1][14]

Although he had missed two months of the 1968 season with a broken arm, he returned to the lineup when Tiger manager Mayo Smith benched shortstop Ray Oyler and sent center fielder Mickey Stanley to play shortstop to make room for Kaline in the outfield.[15] ESPN later called Smith's move one of the ten greatest coaching decisions of the century.[16] In the 1968 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals had won three of the first four games of the series and were leading Game 5 by a score of 3–2 in the seventh inning, when Kaline hit a bases loaded single to drive in two runs.[17] The Tigers went on to win the next two games to win their first world championship since 1945. In his only World Series appearance, Kaline hit .379 with two home runs and eight RBIs in seven games.[18]

On September 24, 1974, Kaline became the 12th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the 3000 hit plateau, when he hit a double off the Orioles' Dave McNally.[19][20][21] Kaline finished his career with 3,007 hits (25th on the all-time list), 399 home runs (a Tigers record and 43rd on the all-time list) and 1583 RBIs.[1] He batted over .300 nine times in his career to finish with a lifetime batting average of .297 and, while never considered a true power hitter, he hit 25 or more home runs seven times in his career.[1]

Honors and post-playing career

Kaline in 2008
Al Kaline's number 6 was retired by the Detroit Tigers in 1980.

Kaline was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980, becoming the tenth player in history to be inducted in his first year of eligibility.[2][22] Kaline was honored by the Tigers as the first of their players to have his uniform number (6) retired.[23] Versatile and well-rounded, he won ten Gold Glove Awards (1957–59 and 1961–67) for excellence in the field and appeared in the All-Star game for fifteen seasons (1955–67, 1971, 1974).[1][24] In 1998, he ranked Number 76 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players,[25] and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.[26][27]

Cherry Street, which ran behind the left-field stands at Tiger Stadium, was renamed Kaline Drive in his honor.[15] Later that year, on September 27, 1999, when the team played its last game at Tiger Stadium, Kaline was invited to appear in uniform and present the last lineup card to the umpires. He did so along with George Brett, considered one of the greatest players ever for the Tigers' opponents that day. Baltimore Oriole third baseman Brooks Robinson said of him, "There have been a lot of great defensive players. The fella who could do everything is Al Kaline. He was just the epitome of what a great outfielder is all about – great speed, catches the ball and throws the ball well.”[2] With earlier legend Ty Cobb having been more respected and feared than loved,[28] Kaline is the probably most popular player ever to play for the Tigers, and possibly the most popular athlete in Detroit history, as he is remembered as much for being a true gentleman as he is for being a superb athlete.

After his playing career, Kaline lived in the Detroit area, and has remained active within the Tigers organization, serving first as a color commentator on the team's television broadcasts (1975–2002) mostly with play by play announcer and former Tiger George Kell, and then later as a consultant to the team.[15] Since 2003, Kaline has served as a special assistant to Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski,[15] and his duties include coaching/mentoring outfielders during spring training.[29] Former Tigers teammate Willie Horton also holds this position, and the two threw out the first pitch of the 2006 World Series at Comerica Park.[15]

In the Nickelodeon cartoon Hey Arnold!, there is a famous baseball player by the name of "Mickey Kaline", whose name would be a mixture of both legendary baseball players Al Kaline and Mickey Mantle

Kaline is an active golfer, playing multiple times per week. On May 24, 2008, Kaline hit a hole-in-one at Oakland Hills Country Club.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Al Kaline Statistics and History". Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Al Kaline biography". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "Al Kaline - Special Assistant to the President". Detroit Tigers. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Six: A Salute to Al Kaline". Detroit Tigers. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "Al Kaline". The Baseball Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  7. ^ Official Profile, Photo and Data Book. Detroit Tigers. 1957. pp. 29. 
  8. ^ "Tigers Pay $95,000 Bonus Money For School Hurler and Outfielder". The New York Times. June 23, 1953. Retrieved October 2, 2008. 
  9. ^ In 1907, Tiger hall-of-famer Ty Cobb had become the first to win an American League batting title at age 20. Although Cobb was born on December 18, whereas Kaline was born on December 19, the fact of 1900 not having been a leap year leads to Kaline and Cobb having been equivalent numbers of days old on corresponding dates of the years in which each won his batting title. However, as the 1907 baseball season concluded some days later in the year than the 1955 season did, Kaline secured his title at an age a few days younger than Cobb secured his. See Mankowski, Don. "Cobb, Kaline and Caesar – Cooked!". Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Two home runs in one inning". Major League Baseball. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Baseball Awards Voting for 1955". Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "1956 American League Fielding Leaders". Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  13. ^ "1958 American League Fielding Leaders". Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  14. ^ "Baseball Awards Voting for 1963". Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Waddell, Nick. "The Baseball Biography Project: Al Kaline". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  16. ^ "Greatest coaching decisions". Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  17. ^ 1968 World Series Game 5 box score at Baseball Reference
  18. ^ 1968 World Series at Baseball Reference
  19. ^ 3000 hit club at the Baseball Hall of Fame
  20. ^ September 24, 1974 Tigers-Orioles box score at Baseball Almanac
  21. ^ September 24, 1974 Tigers-Orioles box score at Baseball Reference
  22. ^ Al Kaline – the Detroit Tigers' 'Mr. Perfection'
  23. ^ Detroit Tigers retired numbers at
  24. ^ Gold Glove Award winners at Baseball Reference
  25. ^ Sporting News 100 Greatest (1998) [retrieved October 10, 2011]
  26. ^ Al Kaline at The Sporting News 100 Greatest Baseball Players
  27. ^ Al Kaline at The Major League Baseball All-Century Team
  28. ^ Reader's Poll: Dirtiest Pro Players at
  29. ^ Gage, Tom. "Tigers 'lifer' Al Kaline stays in background but still commands attention." Detroit News, February 23, 2011. [1]

External links

Preceded by
Bobby Avila
American League Batting Champion
Succeeded by
Mickey Mantle
Preceded by
Ernie Banks
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
Succeeded by
Pete Rose

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