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Albert William "Al" Kaline (Template:Pron-en; born December 19, 1934 in Baltimore, Maryland) is a former Major League Baseball right fielder. He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.[1][2] Kaline played his entire 22-year baseball career with the Detroit Tigers.[1] Kaline still works for the Tigers as a front office official.[3] Because of his lengthy career and longtime association with the Tigers organization, Kaline's nickname is "Mr. Tiger." [4]

For most of his career, Kaline played in the outfield, mainly as a right fielder, where he was known for his strong throwing arm.[5] Near the end of his career, he also played as first baseman and, in his last season, was the Tigers' designated hitter.

Major League Baseball careerEdit

File:A Kaline at bat.jpg

Kaline bypassed the minor league system and joined the team directly from Baltimore's Southern High School as an 18-year-old "bonus baby" signee, receiving $35,000 to sign with the Tigers.[6][7] He made his major league debut on June 25, 1953 in Philadelphia as a late-inning replacement for outfielder Jim Delsing. Kaline wore No. 25 during his rookie campaign, but asked teammate Pat Mullin for his No. 6 after the 1953 season ended. Kaline, who was also known simply as "Six" in the Tiger clubhouse, wore the number for the rest of his major league playing career.

In 1955, Kaline ended the season with a .340 batting average, becoming the youngest player ever to win the American League batting title. Tiger hall-of-famer Ty Cobb had also won a batting title at age 20, but Cobb was born on December 18, making him one day older than Kaline when he won.[8] During the Template:By season, Kaline became the 13th man in major league history to hit two home runs in the same inning, became the youngest to hit three home runs in one game, and finished the year with 200 hits, 27 home runs and 102 RBIs.[1][9][10] He also finished second to Yogi Berra in the American League's 1955 Most Valuable Player Award voting.[11] Kaline followed in 1956 with a .314 batting average with 27 home runs and 128 RBIs.[1] He led the league in outfield assists with 18 in 1956, and again in 1958 with 23.[12][13] In 1963 Kaline hit .312 with 27 home runs and 101 RBIs to finish second to Elston Howard in the American League's Most Valuable Player Award voting.[1][14][15]

Although he had missed two months of the 1968 season with a broken arm, he returned to the lineup when Tiger manager Mayo Smith benched shortstop Ray Oyler and sent center fielder Mickey Stanley to play shortstop to make room for Kaline in the outfield.[8] ESPN later called Smith's move one of the ten greatest coaching decisions of the century.[16] In the 1968 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals had won three of the first four games of the series and were leading Game 5 by a score of 3–2 in the seventh inning, when Kaline hit a bases loaded single to drive in two runs.[17] The Tigers went on to win the next two games to win their first world championship since 1945. In his only World Series appearance, Kaline hit .379 with two home runs and eight RBIs in seven games.[18]

On September 24, 1974, Kaline became the 12th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the 3000 hit plateau, when he hit a double off the Orioles' Dave McNally.[19][20][21] Kaline finished his career with 3,007 hits (25th on the all-time list), 399 home runs (a Tigers record and 43rd on the all-time list) and 1583 RBIs.[1] He batted over .300 nine times in his career to finish with a lifetime batting average of .297 and, while never considered a true power hitter, he hit 25 or more home runs seven times in his career.[1]

Honors and post-playing careerEdit

File:AlKaline.jpg

Kaline was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980, becoming the tenth player in history to be inducted in his first year of eligibility.[2][22] Kaline was honored by the Tigers as the first of their players to have his uniform number (6) retired.[23] Versatile and well-rounded, he won ten Gold Glove Awards (1957–59 and 1961–67) for excellence in the field and appeared in fifteen All-Star games (1955–67, 1971, 1974).[1][24] In Template:By, he ranked Number 76 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.[25][26]

Cherry Street, which ran behind the left-field stands at Tiger Stadium, was renamed Kaline Drive in his honor.[8] Later that year, on September 27, 1999, when the team played its last game at Tiger Stadium, Kaline was invited to appear in uniform and present the last lineup card to the umpires. He did so along with George Brett, considered one of the greatest players ever for the Tigers' opponents that day. Baltimore Oriole third baseman Brooks Robinson said of him, "There have been a lot of great defensive players. The fella who could do everything is Al Kaline. He was just the epitome of what a great outfielder is all about – great speed, catches the ball and throws the ball well.”[2] With earlier legend Ty Cobb having been more respected and feared than loved,[27] Kaline is the probably most popular player ever to play for the Tigers, and possibly the most popular athlete in Detroit history, as he is remembered as much for being a true gentleman as he is for being a superb athlete.

After his playing career, Kaline lived in the Detroit area, and has remained active within the Tigers organization, serving first as a color commentator on the team's television broadcasts (1975–2002) mostly with play by play announcer and former Tiger George Kell, and then later as a consultant to the team.[8] Since 2003, Kaline has served as a special assistant to Tigers President/CEO/General Manager Dave Dombrowski.[8] Former Tigers teammate Willie Horton also holds this position, and the two threw out the first pitch of the 2006 World Series at Comerica Park.[8]

In the Nickelodeon cartoon Hey Arnold!, there is a famous baseball player by the name of "Mickey Kaline", whose name would be a mixture of both legendary baseball players Al Kaline and Mickey Mantle

Kaline is an active golfer, playing multiple times per week. On May 24, 2008, Kaline hit a hole-in-one at Oakland Hills Country Club. Template:-


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