Tigers legend Al Kaline passed away Monday at his home at the age of 85, a family friend confirmed to John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press. An 18-time All-Star, a 10-time Gold Glover in the outfield, the 1955 AL batting champ and a key contributor on Detroit’s 1968 World Series-winning roster, Kaline is among the very best to ever play the game and joins Ty Cobb among the top players to ever suit up for the Tigers organization.
The Baltimore native posted a career .297/.376/.480 batting line with 3007 hits, 399 home runs, 498 doubles, 75 triples, 137 steals, 1622 runs scored and 1582 RBIs, establishing himself as the face of a generation of Tigers baseball from his debut in 1953 to the time he retired in 1974. He is the Tigers’ all-time leader in games played, home runs and walks, and he trails only franchise greats and fellow Cooperstown inductees like Cobb, Hank Greenberg and Charlie Gehringer in virtually all key offensive categories. His No. 6 was retired by the club in 1980, making him the first recipient of that honor.
Kaline’s importance to the organization reaches immeasurably beyond his on-field accolades, however. Even after he retired as a player, the next generation of Tigers fans who didn’t have the good fortune to watch him play instead grew up listening to his insights, anecdotes and experience as one of the voices of Tigers baseball. He also served as a special assistant in the club’s front office and regularly appeared in Spring Training to work with upcoming waves of young Tiger talent.
Kaline will be remembered both as a one of the all-time greats and a revered gentleman off the field. He was named the 1970 Fred Hutchison Award winner, recognizing “character and competitive spirit” and also named the winner of the 1973 Roberto Clemente Award. Media members, former teammates and Tigers players alike have flocked to social media to express their sorrow over the loss of one of the game’s iconic figures.
Said Justin Verlander: “Such a kind and generous man who meant so much to so many. I hope you knew how much I enjoyed our conversations about baseball, life, or just giving each other a hard time. I am honored to have been able to call you my friend for all these years. R.I.P. Mr Tiger, Al Kaline.” James McCann, John Hicks, Niko Goodrum, Grayson Greiner and Jake Rogers are among the many recent Tigers players who have echoed similar sentiments on Twitter.
We at MLB Trade Rumors join those around baseball in expressing heartfelt condolences to the friends, family, loved ones and legions of fans whose lives have been touched by Kaline.