In the past I have gone a little far with how I perceive Mike Illitch and the current management of the Detroit Tigers treatment of members of the 1984 World Series winning team. I get tit the 1968 World Champs were Illitch’s team but it seems odd to me the greatest team this city has ever seen continues to be treated with such casual indifference by the current owner. In a way I guess it makes sense since Sparky Anderson openly defied Illitch and refused to manage replacement players, the very core of the 1984 team were all fired (and in the case of Kirk Gibson fired multiple times) for not getting the job done. However, it was a crime the Tigers chose not to honor Sparky’s #11 till after his death and it seems very peculiar to me that not one player of the 1984 squad has had their number retied yet (or honored by being placed on the left field wall). The Tigers did retire #23 but for Willie Horton. In the 100 plus years of Tigers history the team has officially retired six numbers.
I grumbled a bit when the Tigers issued Jose Iglesias Lou Whittaker’s #1 last summer, but Alan Trammell was my boyhood hero and it seems so wrong that for the second time the Tiers are allowing someone else to wear his #3 (Gary Sheffield also wore the number). I understand teams cannot retire every number and you cannot honor every player but these two players were special to an entire generation of Tigers’ fans and it seems something the current management of this team fails to understand. Seriously no les than two members of the 1968 team still work for the club while the core of the 1984 squad (now that Tom Brookens has departed) are working for other teams.
This is not like the Detroit Red Wings allowing someone to wear the #19, or the #5 or even the #16 cause those numbers will never be issued by that team ever again. It just seems weird that Sparky is the only member of the ’84 squad to have is number honored, and that was done posthumously. What happens is Jack Morris gets elected to the hall this year? Or heaven forbid Trammell makes it, both are worthy and it seems the Tigers should be celebrating that fact by honoring one of the members of the great 1980’s Tigers teams.
I know all the arguments against this. Sheffield was a big star when he came to Detroit and the Tigers had to take care of him. Well Brett Hull as a big star when he came to Detroit when he asked for his #16 he was told no. The history of a team is important to its fans and I am not ready to see the #1 and #3 on the field of play instead of the left field wall were they really belong. So what if nether guy makes it to the hall of fame they were the double play combination when many of us became Tigers fans and they were great.
People always say that a team cannot retire all the numbers and that is certainly true but the New York Yankees are virtually out of numbers lower than 10 so I ‘m not sure I buy the argument that the Tigers cannot retire the #1 or #3 or both for the two players that most remind of us the last great chapter in the history of this team.
How bad would it look if Trammel gets elected to the hall of fame (not likely but possible) in the same season the team he played his entire career for issued his number to someone else?
Kinsler wore the #5 in Texas and he cannot wear that here as the number has been retired for Hank Greenberg. He also cannot wear #7 since that was issued to Brad Ausmus, why mangers need numbers is still beyond me, with the #2 (Charlie Gehringer) and #6 (Al Kaline) also being retired I can see why the Tigers did this, I just don’t have to like it.