Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Kaline, Al

In 1953, Al Kaline joined the Detroit Tigers as a skinny 18-year old from off the Baltimore sandlots. He’d grown up across the street from a factory where pick-up games were a regular lunch-hour feature. “They were always a man or two short, “he recalled once, “and I’d be standing under the trees. They’d say, ‘Come on, Al, play.” And play he did.

Without an inning of minor-league experience, his first season was only average. However, in 1955 he batted .340 to become the youngest batting champion ever, at age twenty. It was just the beginning of a brilliant 22 year career in Detroit. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

His impressive athletic statistics – 3, 007 career hits, 399 home runs, 15 All-Star games, and 10 Gold Gloves – were matched only by his level-headed personality. Several years after batting .379 in the 1968 World Series, he humbly refused a raise that would have made him the team’s first $100,000 player. He didn’t deserve it, he said simply. Discounting that notion, the Tigers retired his number “6” in 1980, the first in club history.

After 21 years on the field, the normally quiet Kaline teamed up with George Kell for over two decades in the broadcast booth. He continues working for the club in an advisory capacity.



Autographed poster of Al Kaline, 1974 - 2005.004.149

Al Kaline (right) on the cover of the Tiger's Yearbook, 1971 - 2004.072.006

View all items related to Al Kaline