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Monday, April 06, 2020

Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers legend, dies at age 85

Al Kaline, who in a long and unique Detroit Tigers lifetime grew from youthful batting champion to Hall of Famer to distinguished elder statesman, died Monday afternoon at his home in Bloomfield Hills. He was 85.

A cause of death was not immediately available. John Morad, a close friend of the family, confirmed the news to the Free Press after speaking with Kaline’s younger son, Mike.

Kaline is survived by another son, Mark, and his wife, Madge Louise Hamilton.

In 22 seasons with the Tigers, most of them as a marvelous right fielder, Kaline played in more games and hit more homers than anyone else in club history, and he compiled a batting résumé second only to Ty Cobb’s.


QLE Posted: April 06, 2020 at 06:28 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: al kaline, obituaries, rip

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   1. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 06, 2020 at 08:14 PM (#5937134)
Kaline is that rare superstar that I’ve never heard a negative word about. He just sounds like he was a terrific guy. RIP.
   2. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: April 06, 2020 at 08:17 PM (#5937135)
1--In the The Athletic's top 100 list it was pretty hilarious all the Kansas City posters who called George Brett a dick for how he apparently treats people in the service industry.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: April 06, 2020 at 08:38 PM (#5937140)
love this from one of the best Twitter accounts from ex-MLBers

CJ Nitkowski
For the final game at Tiger Stadium the players all wore numbers of former Tigers greats. Karim Garcia, wearing Al Kaline's #6 homered in the 6th inning. In the 8th, Robert Fick, wearing Al's rookie year #25, hit a HR on the roof. Al was so excited, he was amazing. #RIPMrTiger
   4. Sweatpants Posted: April 06, 2020 at 08:46 PM (#5937141)
YouTube has highlights of all five games of the 1972 ALCS - great quality video with commentary from the Tigers' broadcasters - and these make up all I've seen of Kaline playing. When I try to picture his face, it's the youthful early-1950s Kaline, but for actually watching him move about on the ballfield that's all I have.

Anyway, what I remember from those clips was that, even in his late thirties, Kaline looked like a magnificent right fielder. It wasn't a Roberto Clemente type of greatness, wherein he's doing things you can't even fathom, but more a textbook kind of excellence from a man who had been standing in that spot for almost twenty years by then (with the occasional spell in center). It was this throw, a perfect strike to third even if it didn't get the runner, that stayed with me. Kaline actually made a walk-off throwing error in that game (really just a bit of bad luck, a pretty good throw that happened to hit the runner's foot) after nearly winning it with a go-ahead homer, so he features heavily in that video.

The first clip from game three has a similar play. Even though he can't stop Matty Alou from reaching second, he plays the bounce perfectly, transfers it quickly, and fires a strike to second with no wasted time or motion. He could have been 29 from the way he looks there, a major contrast to the rest of the '72 Tigers, who collectively have to be one of the fattest baseball teams I've ever seen.

Anyway, I'm sure people who watched his whole career have better memories than a couple of throws that didn't get the runner, and I'm sure that he was capable of jaw-dropping athleticism, but when I saw those videos a couple of years ago they formed an image of a guy who had right field play down to a science.
   5. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 06, 2020 at 08:51 PM (#5937143)
Great player, and a class act, by all accounts.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: April 06, 2020 at 09:09 PM (#5937144)
per post 4.


as a pre-teen in the early 1970s, I collected baseball cards of many all-time legends. and most of them, they looked positively ancient to me on the cards.

but not Kaline. same for the limited highlights I'd see of him, or Yankees broadcaster.

he was not actually a great player late in his career, but he looked the part and he had the resume.

as with all significant players, a SABR bio link is mandatory

(I own the 'giant' card of Kaline in the top right of the link! circa 1974, I think it cost me $2 in the mail to get 40 of the 64 or so giant cards from I think 1964. what a thrill that was. the cards are exquisite.)

"The legendary arm strength and accuracy that would make Kaline one of the most complete ballplayers of his time was evident early on. During a picnic festival, Kaline threw a ball 173.5 feet. The disbelieving judges ordered him to throw again, believing that the measurement was off. Kaline threw again, this time 175 feet. While developing his arm, Kaline also learned to overcome osteomyelitis, a chronic bone disease that forced the removal of diseased bone from his left foot. To combat the physical impairment left behind, Al taught himself to run on the side of his foot."

I could excerpt more, but then it might lead you to the mistake of not clicking the link.

Be Irish for a day - click, and don't just mourn the death. celebrate the life!
   7. Moeball Posted: April 06, 2020 at 09:24 PM (#5937145)
Always had the impression Kaline was an intelligent player. He used the unique structure of Tiger Stadium to his advantage. With the way the upper deck in RF actually hung out over the playing field, any high fly to right with any distance was going to end up as a HR in the upper deck. It would take an extremely hard hit low line drive to reach the wall behind him so Kaline could play a little shallower and cut off potential hits. This doesn't mean he didn't have excellent range, though. I saw him make several outstanding catches in road games too.

As a hitter his age 20 season in 1955 gave indication that he was a great hitter. Hit for good batting averages with solid power and a good eye at the plate. Always felt like he never quite reached the peak he should have but he was still a clear HOFer. I was glad that he finally got a chance to play in a WS in 1968 and he took full advantage of it with a great performance.

He will be missed not only by Tigers fans but by baseball fans everywhere.
   8. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 06, 2020 at 09:50 PM (#5937149)
Kaline threw out a Chicago White Sox runner for three consecutive innings — at home, third and second

I never knew this. That seems extraordinary. I've no idea how to search on something like that but really feels like once in forever type of thing.

How many times does any OF throw out 3 runners in any single game? Much less at 3 different bases?
   9. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 06, 2020 at 10:02 PM (#5937151)
Kaline threw out a Chicago White Sox runner for three consecutive innings — at home, third and second
Too bad he didn’t also have one of those hard one-hop line drive/slow runner plays at first - he would have ‘thrown for the cycle’.
   10. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: April 06, 2020 at 11:17 PM (#5937160)
I like the links in 4. There really was a kind of understated beauty to his defensive play.
   11. SandyRiver Posted: April 07, 2020 at 09:43 AM (#5937217)
IIRC, the only game I ever attended with Kaline playing was the one in 1962 when he broke his collarbone - on a game-ending diving shoestring catch to preserve a 2-1 victory.
   12. TJ Posted: April 07, 2020 at 10:09 AM (#5937225)
I had the pleasure of meeting Al Kaline three different times in three different settings around Detroit. Each time he was the same gracious and kind gentleman he was in the other. 85 years and I can’t think of one bad thing I’ve heard about him as a person. A great player and even greater well, Mr. Tiger. You inspired so many of us as kids to fall in love with the game.
   13. Astroenteritis Posted: April 07, 2020 at 11:02 AM (#5937251)
Kaline was one those players I liked when I was a kid. Somehow the Tigers became my second favorite team when I was young, probably because I liked players like Kaline, Freehan, Horton and Lolich. Like others here, I never heard a bad word about Kaline. He seemed like a great guy as well as a great player.
   14. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: April 07, 2020 at 11:34 AM (#5937259)
Carole ****** Baskin!!
   15. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: April 07, 2020 at 11:36 AM (#5937261)
I was at an NBA game once where the courtside announcer introduced some celebrities in the crowd while the scoreboard flashed their names: Two local MLB players and a Detroit Tiger Hall of Famer. When my wife saw the names on the board, she asked if it was a joke. "There's no way ALKALINE is a real name."
   16. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 07, 2020 at 11:48 AM (#5937265)
There's no way ALKALINE is a real name."

one of the best crossword puzzle clues: "basic Detroit Tiger"
   17. baxter Posted: April 07, 2020 at 04:20 PM (#5937376)
Never played a game in the minors.

Gowdy described him as "tough out."

It's been too long for me; the only recollection I have of that era's Tigers is Campanaris throwing the bat at LaGrow
   18. PreservedFish Posted: April 07, 2020 at 04:31 PM (#5937384)
Sounds like a decent Mookie Betts comp.
   19. Mefisto Posted: April 07, 2020 at 09:34 PM (#5937467)
Mookie hopes not. Kaline had more WAR through age 26, but had just one season above 6 WAR thereafter.
   20. Howie Menckel Posted: April 07, 2020 at 09:37 PM (#5937469)
1968 is the first year I started collecting Topps baseball cards. I was 6.

the cards definitely enhanced my passion for the game.

I know a guy who, through his wife's business connections, got to write blurbs for NBA cards.

for all of my Forrest Gump travels and experiences over the years, writing silly Topps MLB blurbs has to be on my remaining bucket list.

and I'd write 'em just like that era - inventing offseason jobs, famous distant relatives, and unlikely actual hobbies.

as for Kaline, he just got hurt a lot (see my previous post).

he was great when he was on the field.

starting at age 27, games played:
100, 145, 146, 125, 142, 131, 102, 131, 131, 133, 106 (with a 149 OPS+)
   21. QLE Posted: April 14, 2020 at 01:03 AM (#5939493)
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: April 14, 2020 at 01:14 AM (#5939494)
yeah, that was pretty great, QLE.

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