At the Tiger Stadium closing ceremonies ten years ago this summer, numerous former Tiger heroes walked onto the field wearing the old English D.
The first was Mark “The Bird” Fidrych who ran out to the mound where he groomed his old perch before filling a plastic bag with some of the fabled dirt. After Fidrych a few dozen more came out onto the field from centerfield including fan favorites Dick McAuliffe, Willie Horton, George Kell, U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, and Al Kaline.
But to top off the nostalgic and moving procession, the last two came out together.
Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, the game’s longest playing double play combination in history ran out together for a thunderous roar.
God knows they deserved it.
For an unprecedented 18 complete consecutive seasons (1978 to 1995) Trammell and Whitaker spoiled us.
Their remarkable infield play and their superb clutch hitting over those seasons were something to behold, and frankly, something we probably took for granted. They made it look so easy.
In 1995, Trammell and Whitaker set an American League record with 1,918 appearances as teammates breaking the old AL mark of 1,914 that had been held by Kansas City’s George Brett and Frank White. (The National League record is 2015 held by the Cubs’ Ernie Banks and Billy Williams.)
Recently, Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken told a reporter that in his opinion, Trammell and Whitaker should both be inducted into the Hall of Fame together. Unfortunately, at this point, it would take the Veterans Committee to induct them and God only knows when that is ever going to happen.
Baseball statistician guru Bill James has ranked Alan Trammell the seventh best in history for shortstops and places Lou Whitaker at number 13 for second basemen. I’m not going to go through the whole Hall of Fame list and pick out who should be there, and who shouldn’t, but I believe it is very difficult to explain why this dynamic All Star duo have not be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Remarkably, Whitaker, the 1978 Rookie of the Year, and Trammell, the 1984 World Series MVP, ( who should have also won the 1984 AL MVP award) have very similar statistics that demonstrate superior consistency in both hitting and fielding.
20 seasons (1977 to 1996)
6 time All Star
4 Gold Gloves
Batting Average .285
Home runs: 185
Fielding Percentage: .977
19 seasons (1977 to 1995)
5 time All star
3 Gold Gloves
Batting Average: .276
Home runs: 244
Fielding percentage .984
With free agency, it is very unlikely that baseball will ever again see a middle infield combination that plays together as long as Trammell and Whitaker.
So on the 25th Anniversary of the ’84 World Championship, let’s tip our caps to the two players that were at the heart of that great Tiger team and whose poetry in motion we will never forget. And hopefully, one day we will see Tram and Sweet Lou enshrined in Cooperstown.