The Detroit Tigers announced Saturday that former utility player Don Kelly has joined the organization as a pro scout and assistant to player development. The move comes one day after Colin Dunlap of 93.7 The Fan out of Pittsburgh, Penn. tweeted that the former Tigers player had retired.
Kelly was drafted by the Tigers in the eighth round in 2001. He spent nine years in the majors, six of which were with the Tigers — in addition to minor league stints. His first major league season with Detroit was in 2009 after a year with the Diamondbacks in 2008, and a season with his hometown Pirates in 2007.
After the 2014 season, Kelly declined a minor league assignment and was granted free agency, where he signed with the Marlins and played for in 2015 and ‘16. He was designated for assignment on July 28, 2016 after Dee Gordon returned from his PED suspension. The 37-year-old played every position in baseball, including pitcher.
Kelly is already in Lakeland, Fla. donning Tigers gear and high socks.
Don. Kelly. pic.twitter.com/2Dtc8hS1A4— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) February 18, 2017
While he never hit for power or was known for defensive highlights, Kelly was beloved by much of the Tigers’ fan base more for his personality than his on-field performance. During the 2015 offseason, he was inducted into the Whitecaps Hall of Fame, where he also read #DonnieDeeds tweets.
After a broadcast in which analyst Rod Allen said “They can’t stop Don Kelly,” the screenshot quickly became a meme that has since lived on in infamy. Lastly, there was the hot foot incident in a prank by Justin Verlander. It’s fitting that Kelly returns to the team that had long been his home.