Champ Summers died yesterday at 66 years of age.
Champ was only in Detroit three years 79-81 but really became popular as a member of Sparky's bench. He, Lynn Jones and John Wockenfuss called themselves the "Riders of the Lonesome Pine" as they rarely started a game but always had to be ready when Sparky called their name.
What I remember about Summers was twofold. He had this big 70's mustache and became one of those fan favorites that everyone wanted to start. Whenever Sparky would take calls on WJR's "Sports Wrap" Summers was usually the topic. But with Chet Lemon, Kirk Gibson and Larry Herndon in the outfield his starts were few and far between. As a lefty off the bench he did win a few games with his bat in 1980 which fueled the Champ should Start campaign all over again.
He also was famous for being in a brawl while with the Cincinatti Reds. I believe they were playing in Atlanta and as the fight got more intense it moved close enough to the stands where Champ got doused with a beer. There should be a You Tube of it somewhere.
He was one of those players that made you smile when you thought about his Tigers career. Big hits in big situations, but a Rider of the Lonesome Pine most of the Time.