Lou Whitaker

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Lou Whitaker
Lou Whitaker 1981.jpg
Whitaker bats at Tiger Stadium in 1981
Second baseman
Born: (1957-05-12) May 12, 1957 (age 56)
Brooklyn, New York
Batted: LeftThrew: Right
MLB debut
September 9, 1977 for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1995 for the Detroit Tigers
Career statistics
Batting average.276
Home runs244
Hits2,369
Runs batted in1,084
Teams
Career highlights and awards
 
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Lou Whitaker
Lou Whitaker 1981.jpg
Whitaker bats at Tiger Stadium in 1981
Second baseman
Born: (1957-05-12) May 12, 1957 (age 56)
Brooklyn, New York
Batted: LeftThrew: Right
MLB debut
September 9, 1977 for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
October 1, 1995 for the Detroit Tigers
Career statistics
Batting average.276
Home runs244
Hits2,369
Runs batted in1,084
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Louis Rodman Whitaker, Jr. (born May 12, 1957) nicknamed Sweet Lou, is a former Major League Baseball player. Whitaker was a second baseman for the Detroit Tigers from 1977 to 1995. Along with teammate Alan Trammell, Whitaker is perhaps best known as half of the longest running "double play" combination in major league history.

Professional playing career[edit]

Whitaker first played with shortstop Alan Trammell while with the old Double-A Montgomery Rebels. The two first played together in the major leagues when they were both called up to Detroit at the end of the 1977 season. Both players became starters by the end of April, 1978. They would remain teammates until Whitaker retired in 1995. Trammell and Whitaker also made a cameo appearance together on the television show Magnum, P.I. starring Tom Selleck, as themselves, during the 1983 season.[1]

In 1978, Whitaker won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, hitting .285 with 71 runs, and a .361 on-base percentage.

Whitaker enjoyed what was perhaps his best season in 1983, hitting for a .320 average with 12 home runs, 72 runs batted in, and 94 runs. That year he made the first of five consecutive All-Star appearances. In 1984, Whitaker and the Tigers won the World Series. The day Detroit clinched the Series was doubly special for Whitaker: the second eldest of his four daughters was born that day.

In 1985, Whitaker set a record for Detroit second basemen with 21 home runs and, in 1986, was a member of a Tigers infield in which every member hit at least twenty home runs. He hit a career-best 28 homers in 1989, one of four times he reached the 20-HR plateau. Whitaker reached two career milestones in 1992, recording both his 2,000th hit and his 200th home run.

Along with his American League contemporaries Frank White and Willie Randolph, Whitaker set the standard for defensive play at his position throughout the 1980s.[citation needed] Lou Whitaker is also only one of a select handful of players ever to hit a ball over the roof of Tiger Stadium.[citation needed]

In his 19-year career, Whitaker batted .276 with 244 home runs, 1,084 RBIs, 1,386 runs, 2,369 hits, 420 doubles, 65 triples, and 143 stolen bases in 2,390 games. He also recorded a 1.089 walk-to-strikeout ratio. He retired following the 1995 season and became an instructor with the Tigers during their spring training sessions in Lakeland, Florida, where he helped coaching hitters through the 2009 season. He and the Tigers parted ways in 2010 by mutual agreement according.[2]

Although the team had not officially retired Whitaker's jersey, there was some debate [3] among fans on social media outlets and on sportstalk radio when it was announced in August, 2013 that newly acquired infielder José Iglesias would take over the number. Iglesias was the first player to wear jersey #1 since Whitaker's retirement in 1995.

Hall of Fame eligibility[edit]

Lou Whitaker is currently ineligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame; he did not receive the required five percent of the votes in his first (and only) year of eligibility (in 2001). Despite having statistics comparable to other second basemen in the Hall of Fame (including contemporary Ryne Sandberg, a third-year inductee), Whitaker was dismissed from the ballot after receiving fifteen votes, or 2.9%. This surprised many observers, including Bill James,[4] who named Whitaker the thirteenth-best second baseman of all time in The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. Whitaker is now ineligible for baseball's highest honor until 2015.

Team records[edit]

Whitaker ranks among the Tigers' all time leaders in many categories, including the following:

All-Star Games[edit]

Whitaker was selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game five times: 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987.

In the 1985 All-Star Game, Whitaker forgot to pack his uniform. Making this discovery just before the game, he had to make do with whatever replica merchandise was available for purchase at the park. He obtained an adjustable mesh hat and a blank jersey. He finished off his outfit by scrawling his number on the back in magic marker. The Smithsonian requested the jersey and it was given to them by Mr. Whitaker and it remains a part of their collection.[5]

During the 1986 All-Star Game, Whitaker took was one of the five straight players struck out by National League pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, tying Carl Hubbell's mark.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]