SSOMG would like to take a time out and honor Al Kaline tonight. Al died yesterday at the age of 85.
If you have never heard of Al Kaline, I would not be surprised. Al played baseball for the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are in the American League, and Detroit is a long way from California. Plus Al retired many years ago after passing the magic 3,000 base hit plateau, which usually leads to the hall of fame. For Al, it was no different, as he was elected to the hall in 1980. Kaline continued with the Tigers after his retirement as the team’s announcer for more than 20 years. Al was the youngest player (20 years old) to win the American League batting title. He hit almost 400 home runs over his 21 year career, and just showed up every day with a good attitude and a great swing. He was named to 18 all-star teams.
West of Detroit, and outside of the baseball world, most people don’t know Al Kaline, or don’t remember him. But he was one of the sports all-time greats.
Like so many players of that era, Ernie Banks and Roberto Clemente, like Gil Hodges and Yogi Berra, they just showed up and did what they enjoyed and what they were good at. No great fanfare, just displaying what God had gifted them with…for the enjoyment of their fans and sports fans in general.
Back then the players did not make millions of dollars. In fact Al worked at a hardware store during the off-season to help make ends meet.
Sometimes I yearn for those the old-days, when the stars played for the love of the game. Times are different now. And now we have lost another star from my era.
Rest in peace Al Kaline, Mr. Tiger; those who knew you will miss you greatly. Detroit will miss you for sure.