Apr 8, 2020

Remembering Two Great Players From My Youth Upon Their Passing- Al Kaline & Jimmy Wynn

Al Kaline was a Detroit Tigers legend. He was called "Mr. Tiger" & known as one of the nicest guys to play the game. He won ten Gold Gloves, known for his strong throws, he made 18 All Star Games & is a member of Baseball's Hall of Fame. 

The outfielder, moved to first base at the end of his career & then a designated hitter. I remember Kaline at the end of his career, I was a kid when he got his 3000th hit, sealing his entry to the Hall of Fame. His baseball cards were legendary too & very sought after.

In just his third season, 1955, Kaline won a batting title as he hit .340. Kaline would bat over .300 nine times in his 22 year career, finishing with a career .297 average. He finished second in the AL batting race three times & third two more times. 

He finished with 3007 hits, 399 HRs 498 doubles 75 triples 1582 RBIs & a .376 on base %, while playing in 2834 games all with the Tigers. In those years he got to two post season 1968 & 1972.

In the 1968 World Series win over the St. Louis Cardinals, Kaline batted .379 with 11 hits 2 HRS & 8 RBIs. With the Tigers down three games to two, Kaline drove in four runs with a HR in the 13-1 Game #6 win, getting the Series to a Game #7. The Tigers won the Championship & temporarily brought peace to a politically & racially torn city of Detroit. 


In 1972 the Tigers lost the ALCS to the eventual World Champion Oakland A's. In the five game series he batted .263 with a HR.

After retiring at the end of the 1974 season, the popular Kaline became a long time Tiger broadcaster through 2002. The baseball hero passed away April 6th 2020 at age 85. His cause of death not told.

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Jimmy Wynn was labeled "the Toy Cannon" because of the monstrous NRs he would hit. Wynn came up with the Houston Astros in their early years & was their first true slugger. 

Wynn spent 11 years in Houston, hitting 20 or more
HRs seven times in a season. He hit over 30 HRs twice in that time (1967 & 1969). This may not sound like a lot of HRs but in that era in the Astrodome, which was a pitchers ball park, it was a huge feat. He drove in 87 or more runs four times in that period. 

In 1967 his 37 HRs were second Hank Aaron's 39. He would come in the leagues top ten four times in those Astro years. In 1967 he made his first All Star team & he drone in 107 runs (4th best in the NL). In 1969 Wynn led the NL in walks with 148 as he put up a .436 on base %.

Wynn became a National star in 1974, prior to that season he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Claude Osteen & minor leaguer David Culpepper. In 1973 he batted just .220 with 20 HRs & 55 RBIs, so Houston may have thought he was on the decline at age 31. It ended up being  one of the Astros worst trades ever & the deal that sealed a pennant for the Dodgers.

For Met fans, this was another almost. The Astros were interested in one of the many Mets young pitchers & their pitching prospects. But the Mets front office were still feeling the pain of trading Nolan Ryan after the 1971 season & were afraid to pull the trigger on another pitcher. That said...…...

The Dodgers got Jimmy Wynn & he had his best season, winning the Come back Player of the Year Award. He hit 32 HRs (3rd most in the NL) with 108 RBIs (4th in the NL) 108 walks (3rs most in the NL) & batted .271 with a 387 on base %. He made the All Star team & the Dodgers won the NL pennant. He drove in two runs in the NLCS win over the Pittsburg Pirates. In the World Series, he hit a HR off the A's Rollie Fingers in Game #1 as the Dodgers lost to Oakland in five games. 

Wynn made another All Star team in 1975 but his career began to decline.

 In 1976 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves & ended his career the next season. Overall he hit 291 HRs with 964 RBIs while batting .250 with a .366 on base %, playing in 1920 games.

After his playing days, the Houston legend had his #24 retired. He was a post game analyst for Astros games & did work for community outreach. Wynn passed away on March 28th, 2020. His cause of death not told.

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