On this date in 1940, Hank gets a raise for moving to outfield

From Baseball-Reference.com:

1940 – The Detroit Tigers’ roster lists Hank Greenberg as an OF. The willingness of the team’s leading power hitter to switch, at a contract boost, from 1B allows manager Del Baker to find a position for Rudy York. Also on the list are Dick Bartell, picked up from the Chicago Cubs for Billy Rogell and Pinky Higgins, who had been shopped around. The four, along with Barney McCosky and Charlie Gehringer, produce the stuff that will move the Tigers from fifth to first, although its .588 mark will be as low as that of any pennant-winner yet.

That Tigers squad won 90 games, finishing a game ahead of the Indians. They also:

  • Led the American League in hitting with a .286 average
  • Led the league in attendance at 1,112,693
  • Lost a seven-game World Series to the Reds, dropping Game 7 by a score of 2-1

Not a bad year for a lowly 90-win team.

The day Gibby left town

I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was that Kirk Gibson left the Tigers for the Dodgers as a free agent in 1988. Not only had there been rumors of a one-for-one trade in place for L.A.’s slugging first baseman Pedro GuererroLance Parrish also left as a free-agent, about a year before.

Yeah, but still.

The day Gibby signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract with the Dodgers was the day I finally understood the “baseball-is-a-business” thing was legit. (And, my God, two years later Jack Morris would leave and then I’d really had it. )

Jan. 29, 1988 was the end of an era for Detroit baseball, but we didn’t know it. Or maybe most fans did; I certainly didn’t. I wanted to believe the 1988 Tigers would be okay — no better, no worse — than the ’87 team. I mean, after all, they traded for Ray Knight.

Ahem.

The Gibson that rejoined the Tigers in 1993 was nowhere near the one that left five years earlier, but it still seemed right that he came back to end his career in Detroit.

But still.

About those new Tigers Spring Training uniforms …

Imagine 40 years ago someone approaching former Tigers GM and President, the late Jim Campbell, and uttering these words:

The jerseys are a part of Majestic’s new Flex Base uniform system, a design developed through insights from Major League players, innovative fabric technologies and extensive wear testing over the past two years. The new Flex Base uniforms feature a new, lighter-weight twill technology and mesh panels on the sides of the jerseys that reduce the overall weight of jerseys by 10-20 percent and enhance freedom of movement, which is significant to players.”

Assuming for a moment that Campbell wouldn’t have immediately thrown the person out of his office, upon hearing the words “innovative fabric technologies”, he would’ve likely barked at him or her that they were wasting his time.

Or, come to think of it, another possibility could’ve been Campbell seeing dollar signs floating above his head and being captivated by the additional revenue he could sock away for owner John Fetzer and not spend on a free agent or two.

Fast forward to today, when MLB announced new Spring Training uniforms and hats for all 30 clubs (which is great for teams like the Diamondbacks who already have countless choices). That bit about the “innovative fabric technologies” comes from the MLB.com article which showcases the new lineup of merchandise.

Prepare your retinas for the Tigers’ orange Spring Training cap.

Orange hat

The jersey isn’t awful but this line from the MLB.com story gives me chills:

These will debut in Spring Training and be worn throughout the regular season and postseason.

I hope never to see the dark jersey in a game outside of Florida. Then again, I’m old school and love that the Tigers have only a home-whites and road-grays, and am likely in the minority here.

blue jersey

MLB might not be the runaway marketing machine and currency printer that the NFL is, but it’s close.

What do you think of these?

On this date in Tigers history …

A league is born, the Tigers finally integrate and another record pay day for Big Daddy. From Baseball-Reference.com:

1901 – The American League formally organizes as a major league, having been a top minor league in 1900: the Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Americans are admitted to join the Washington Nationals, Cleveland Blues, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago White Sox. Three of the original clubs – Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Buffalo – are dropped. League power aggregates in Ban Johnson as trustee for all ballpark leases and majority stockholdings, and with authority to buy out refractory franchises. Player limit is 14 per team, and the schedule will be 140 games. American League contracts give the Players Protective Association what it asked for, with five-year limits on the rights to player services.

1958 – The San Francisco Giants trade infielders Gail Harris and Ozzie Virgil to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Jim Finigan and $25,000. Virgil becomes the first black player in a Tigers uniform.

1992Detroit Tigers first baseman Cecil Fielder avoids salary arbitration by agreeing to a $4.5 million contract, for the largest single-season deal in major league history.

Happy Birthday, Rod Lindsey

e8aba815_davisIf you don’t remember outfielder Rod Lindsey, or his career 1.167 OPS, I’m with you. I had to look him up … and here’s what I found.

Lindsey came to the Tigers from the Padres in 1998 as the player to be named later in a trade for Scott Sanders.

He appeared in 11 games for the 2000 Tigers, wearing number 54, notching five plate appearances. His first and only major-league hit — a double — came in his last major-league game, a 12-11, come-from-behind Tigers win over the Twins in the season finale.

Not a long career, but at least a memorable finish. Happy Birthday, Rod.