Al Kaline is thought by many Michiganders to be the greatest Detroit Tiger of all time. Al was not from Michigan as many believe. He was born to a poor family and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland.

Al's lifelong affliction in his foot began when he was eight years old; doctors had removed two inches of bone from his left foot due to osteomyelitis. This did not deter Al from his desire to play baseball; he taught himself how to throw a fastball and curveball at nine years old.

He was a poor student, but according to Al, his teachers passed him anyway, believing that someday he would be a successful ball player. Boy, were they right.

At eighteen years old, as soon as he left high school, he immediately joined the Detroit Tigers, and didn't have to play in the minor leagues at all.

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Two years later, in 1955, he ended the season with a .340 batting average, making him the youngest to win the American league batting title since Ty Cobb in 1907.

I remember watching this game on was on May 26, 1962 when a long fly ball was hit out to Al in right field; he ran, snagged the ball, stumbled and fell, breaking his collarbone. He was out for the next 57 games.

In 1964, still feeling pain in his left foot due to his osteomyelitis, he consulted a foot doctor who recommended orthopedic shoes. These shoes relieved a huge portion of his pain. Sportswriter Milton Gross wrote about Al's foot, stating “It is hard to believe, but for all of his career with the Tigers while he has been called the perfect player, Kaline has bordered on being a cripple".

After reaching a milestone of 3,000 hits in 1974, Al announced his retirement.

Last Game, October 3, 1974
Games Played: 2,834
Walks: 1,277
Sacrifice Flies: 104
His Number 6 was retired in 1980
Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame, 1980
Winner of Ten Golden Glove Awards
15 All Star Games
Tiger broadcaster, 1975-2002
Special assistant to Tigers GM, 2003-2020

Al spent a total of 67 years with the Detroit Tigers, one of the longest in history.
He passed away on April 6, 2020, from an undisclosed cause.

Take a look at the gallery below, featuring photos of where he lived – and died - in Bloomfield Hills.

Al Kaline


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