No one, with the possible exceptions of Hall of Famer Ty Cobb and recently deceased announcer Ernie Harwell—who contributes the foreword to this book—is more closely associated with the Detroit Tigers than Al Kaline. In 1955, he was the youngest player at the age of 20 ever to win an American League batting title. Subsequently he won 10 Gold Gloves for his right-field play, played in 18 All-Star games, banged out more than 3,000 hits, and was still a star when the Tigers won the World Series in 1968. His accomplishments were perhaps best summarized by his being only the tenth player elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. After his retirement, Kaline worked as a Tiger broadcaster for almost 30 years. Hawkins, who has covered the Tiger beat since 1970 for various newspapers, relates Kaline’s youth as the child of supportive, working-class parents. There are anecdotes illuminating Kaline’s playing career that include his disappointments and, of course, his triumphs, culminating in the ’68 Series win. If Kaline had a fault, it was that he played in the same era as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, and Roberto Clemente—it’s hard to get national ink with those guys as your contemporaries. This biography will be in great demand in Michigan, but it should also be read by fans interested in gaining some perspective on one of baseball’s greatest yet most underappreciated players. --Wes Lukowsky
About the Author
Jim Hawkins is a journalist who has worked for the Detroit Free Press and later for The Oakland (Michigan) Press. He is the author of seven books, including The Bicycle Book, One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story, and Tigers Confidential. Ernie Harwell was the play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Tigers for 42 years.