One of Detroit's all-time favorite Tigers is celebrating his 78th birthday today. We would like to wish Al Kaline a very happy birthday!
Kaline played all 22 years of his professional baseball career in Detroit before becoming a baseball commentator for the Tigers.
He is now in his 60th year with the Tiger organization. In 2002 he was named a special assistant and advisor to the club's senior management.
Here are a few more bullet points about Mr. Baseball according to Detroit.tigers.mlb.com
- Named to his current position in January 2002 after entering the front office on June 18, 2001 as part of a baseball committee created by owner Michael Ilitch.
- Following his outstanding playing career, Kaline spent 26 seasons providing color commentary for Tigers television broadcasts.
- Began his broadcasting career in 1976, two seasons after his retirement as a player...joined fellow Hall-of-Famer George Kell in the booth for WWJ-TV.
- Kaline and Kell remained a team through 1996, working with three different local television stations...Kaline remained in the booth through part of the 2001 season with partners that included Hall-of-Famer Ernie Harwell, Jim Price and Frank Beckmann before leaving to join a baseball advisory committee.
- Played all 22 of his seasons with the Tigers, matched in longevity only by the legendary Ty Cobb.
- In 1980, became just the 10th player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
- Was selected to 18 all-star games, tops among all Tigers, including 13 consecutive years (1955-67)...compiled a .324 all-star average (12x37) and did not commit any errors.
- Won 10 Gold Gloves in 11 years from 1957-67...led the league in fielding twice (.993 mark in 1966, tied for lead with a 1.000 mark in 1971).
- Recorded his 3,000th career hit off the Orioles Dave McNally on September 24, 1974, the 12th major league player to reach that mark...finished his career with 3,007 hits, and was the first Tigers player since Ty Cobb in 1921 to reach the 3,000-hit plateau.
- Is the Tigers all-time leader with 2,834 games played and 399 home runs...is the only player other than Cobb to lead the franchise in any major career offensive category.
- His distinguished major league career began with Detroit in 1953 when he was just 18 years old...went straight to the majors without ever playing in the minor leagues.
- Runner-up for the American League Most Valuable Player award in 1955 and 1963...finished second to Yogi Berra in 1955 and Elston Howard in 1963...chosen by The Sporting News as its Player of the Year both seasons.
- Became the youngest player ever to lead the American League in hitting at age 20 as he won the batting title in 1955 with a .340 batting average...was one day younger than Ty Cobb when he won the title in 1907.
- Hit .300-or-better eight times and collected 20-or-more home runs nine times...topped .300 in five-of-six seasons from 1958-63 and was the Tigers batting champion 10 times during his career.
- Posted 399 career home runs and maintained a .297 lifetime batting average...collected his 300th home run in 1967, becoming the 27th player in history to reach that total.
- Tied Tris Speaker for an American record by appearing in 100-or-more games for 19 straight seasons.
- Accomplished the 100-or-more game streak despite several injuries, including a broken cheek bone (1959), broken collar bone (1962), rib injury (1965, 1973), foot surgery (1965), broken finger (1967) and a broken right arm (1968).
- Received the 1973 Roberto Clemente Award, given by the Commissioner of Baseball to the player best exemplifying baseball on and off the field.
- Received the 1974 Joseph E. Cronin trophy as the American League Player of the Year...other awards include the 1973 Bill Slocum Award from the NY Baseball Writers for ?long and meritorious service to baseball,the 1970 Fred Hutchinson Award exemplifying "character and competitive spirit," and the 1974 Tiger of Year from the Detroit Baseball Writers.
- Came back from a broken arm earlier in the season to bat .379 (11x29) against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1968 World Series...launched two home runs in the Series, in Game Three and Six, and drove in eight runs.
- Had his uniform number 6 retired by the Tigers on August 17, 1980, the first Tigers player to receive this honor.
- His grandson, Colin Kaline, was selected by the Tigers in the 26th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft ...Colin made his professional debut with Single A Connecticut in 2011.