Tuesday, February 11, 2014

#160 Lou Whitaker

About the Front: Lou Whitaker is giving someone the side-eye. Whoever it is, they probably pointed out that Lou's black wristband doesn't fit Detroit's navy-and-orange color scheme.

About the Back: It's odd to see Whitaker's 109 games played in 1981 in red italics, indicating that he tied for the league lead. The midseason strike that year is to blame, of course.

Triple Play:

1. He partnered with shortstop Alan Trammell to form the longest-tenured double play combo in MLB history, as they both played in the Tigers' middle infield regularly from 1978 through 1995.

2. Lou made it to the 1985 All-Star Game in Minnesota, but most of his uniform did not. He left it in his car at the airport in Detroit, and a replacement uniform got lost in transit. He wound up wearing a mesh cap and replica jersey from a merchandise stand at the Metrodome, with a clubhouse attendant stenciling a #1 on the back of the shirt with marker. The second baseman borrowed an Indians batting helmet from Bert Blyleven and got a fielding glove on loan from Cal Ripken, Jr.

3. Whitaker was criminally overlooked by Hall of Fame voters, failing to reach even the 5% mark necessary to stay on the ballot beyond his first year of eligibility. It'll be up to the Veterans Committee to right that wrong in the coming years.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: In the odd hodgepodge of late 1980s cards that kick-started my collection, there was a 1988 Topps Big card of Lou Whitaker. That's how I learned of his unusual middle name, "Rodman".

Bill James Said: "Father time will catch him sooner or later, but there is no sign that it's ready to happen."

On This Date in 1993: February 11. President Clinton names Janet Reno Attorney General of the U.S.

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