Jose Iglesias is surprisingly wearing #1 for the Detroit Tigers these days, but when true Tiger fans think about the jersey #1, they think of Lou Whitaker. “Sweet Lou” played 19 seasons at second base for the Detroit Tigers, all 19 of them along side Major League Baseball legend Alan Trammell who played shortstop. I think that Whitaker’s #1 and Trammell’s #3 jersey numbers should’ve been retired a long time ago, but maybe someday, it’s better late than never.
Louis Rodman Whitaker was born on May 12, 1967, in Brooklyn, New York. He want to Martinsville High School in Martinsville, VA. In the 1975 amateur draft, he was drafted in the 5th round by the Detroit Tigers. After playing two and a half seasons in the Tiger’s Minor League farm system, Whitaker made his Major League debut in 1977.
Major League Days
In his first full season in 1978, he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award. It wasn’t until 1983 that Lou would play in his first All-Star game. During that season and the next four, Lou would confirm his All-Star status, playing second base for the American League All-Star Team five years in a row. In 1985, he set a record for Detroit second basemen with 21 home runs. He also won the Golden Glove Award for the American League at second base in 1983, 1984, and 1985. Although his personal accomplishments were great, his greatest was playing in the 1984 World Series when the Detroit Tigers defeated the San Diego Padres in five games.
After that season, the Tigers started going downhill, and a few years later, they would find themselves in last place in their division season after season. Even with all the losing the Tigers did, the fans would still come out to Tiger Stadium to watch Cecil Fielder hit his mammoth home runs, and to see Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker turn one double play after another. You’ll never see another double play combination ever again like Lou and Alan. There are not many players that even play with the same team for more than five seasons anymore, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that you will probably never see two players, playing side by side like they did for 19 years. Lou would play his last season in in 1995, playing second base and DH. In 1996, he retired from Major League Baseball with a career batting average of .276, 244 home runs, and 1,084 BRIs.
Waiting for the Hall of Fame
Even though Lou Whitaker hit for an average of .300 or better only twice in his Major League Baseball career, a lot of baseball fans, myself included, think that he should be in the Hall of Fame. The only time Lou has even been on the Hall of Fame ballot was in 2001. He probably will never be inducted by himself from his own personal accomplishments, but maybe as a player combination along with Alan Trammell. “Sweet Lou” still has two more years to hopefully be voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, since he is still eligible until 2015. We’ll all have to keep our fingers crossed.