Detroit Tigers outfielder Clete Thomas was yesterday’s hero after he hit a grand slam in the 8th inning to give the Tigers a crucial win over the Anaheim Angels. No one was happier than teammate Joel Zumaya, who had just blown the lead in the top of the inning. He practically mugged Thomas in the Tigers dugout afterward.
Thomas is fitting in nicely here in Detroit. He has a gritty style of play that Tigers fans have come to expect from their heroes. Thomas seems to have a never-say-die attitude and he isn’t afraid to get his uniform dirty. His brand of baseball is old-school — and Detroit fans are really taking to him.
Since player salaries have reached an extremely high level, it seems all too often that players play the game as though they are afraid of getting injured. If they make an incredible play, you have to wonder if they’re doing it for their team or just to make the highlight segment on ESPN.
It seems as though Clete Thomas is playing baseball for the right reason: he loves the game. It’s very refreshing to see a player who is willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win. Thomas is a long ways away from being listed with other gritty Tigers like Ty Cobb, Mickey Cochrane and Kirk Gibson. But he certainly seems to have gone to the same baseball school as these legends. It was almost shocking to see how embarrassed he became when the fans at Comerica Park were cheering him on to take a curtain call. How often do you see that in professional sports these days?
Best of luck to you, Clete. If you keep playing old-school baseball, you’ve got a very bright future here in Detroit.