Al Kaline (born December 19, 1934 in Baltimore, Maryland) was a Major League Baseball player from 1953 to 1974, spending his entire career with the Detroit Tigers, bypassing the minor league system and joining the team directly from high school. For most of his career, Kaline played in the outfield, mainly right field, where he was known for his strong throwing arm. He once threw out two baserunners at home in the same inning. Near the end of his career, he also played at first base and, in his last season, was the Tigers' designated hitter.
In 1955, Kaline hit .340 for the season, becoming the youngest player ever to win a major league batting title. Versatile and well-rounded, he won ten Gold Glove Awards (1957-59 and 1961-67) for excellence in the field and appeared in fifteen All-Star games (1955-67, 1971, 1974). He was a member of the World Series championship team in 1968. In 1958, he amassed 23 assists, extremely high for an outfielder.
Kaline finished his career with 3,007 hits (24th on the all-time list) and 399 home runs (a Tigers record). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980 and subsequently honored by the Tigers as the first of their players to have his uniform number retired (6). With earlier legend Ty Cobb having been more respected and feared than loved, Kaline is the most popular player ever to play for the Tigers, and possibly the most popular athlete in Detroit history.
Since retiring from the playing field, Kaline has lived in the Detroit area, and has remained active within the Tigers organization, serving first as a color commentator on the team's television broadcasts (1975-2002) and later as a consultant to the team. Cherry Street, which ran behind the left-field stands at Tiger Stadium, was renamed Kaline Drive in his honor.
In 1999, he ranked Number 76 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Later that year, on September 27, when the team played its last game at Tiger Stadium, Kaline was invited to appear in uniform and present the last lineup card to the umpires. He did so along with George Brett, the greatest player ever for the Tigers' opponents that day, the Kansas City Royals.