No recent faces in this mix, but the combined power of beloved players in this, the final group of four on the left-hand side of our bracket, is sure to cause strife for some long-time Tigers fans who will need to choose among their most loved favorites.
Of course, always-a-bridesmaid at the Hall of Fame Lou Whitaker is among the names the round, and while he may never never been a media darling, his legacy seems to grow in strength every year (culminating in the Tigers finally retiring his jersey number this August — something I hope we all get to see.)
Let’s take a quick moment to remind ourselves of the past three rounds, and what faces us today.
This time around we see Lance Parrish take on Gates Brown, and Mickey Tettleton take on Lou Whitaker.
Lance Parrish vs. Gates Brown
It should come as no surprise that another member of the 1984 Tigers roster is getting a nod here. Lance Parrish, the team’s catcher, was an eight-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and six-time Silver Slugger. He spent the first ten seasons of his career with the Tigers, before going on to become something of a journeyman, playing for six other teams before retiring at the age of 39.
Parrish hasn’t strayed far from the Tigers over the years, serving as their third-base, bullpen, and bench coach during his post-play career. He did color commentary work for the team in 2002, and (unfortunately) was a member of Alan Trammell’s coaching staff for the disastrous 2003 season. He has also served as a manager for the Erie SeaWolves and the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Gates Brown was a career Tiger, playing for the team from 1963-75, and was a member of the 1968 World Series winning team. Brown’s story is nothing short of incredible, and it’s a wonder it hasn’t been made into a movie. While serving time in a reformatory for burglary, a prison guard suggested that Brown join the reformatory team as a catcher. Brown did such a tremendous job on the team that the guard called in professional scouts, and the Tigers managed to get Brown paroled the following year. While Brown was not the first African-American player on the Tigers, at the time he signed with them he was the only one.
The bat which had so enamored the Tigers came through in style when he hit a home run in his first major league at bat (at the time he was only the 11th AL batter to achieve this). Brown gained notoriety through his career as being an exceptional pinch hitter, and to this day is still 15th overall in baseball history for most pinch hits (107)
Further extending his legend is the infamous “hot dog” story, in which Brown had just collected two hot dogs from the clubhouse when he was asked to pinch hit. He stuffed the hot dogs in his jersey, hoping for a quick out, but instead he hit a sliding double. When he got to his feet his jersey was stained from the inside with ketchup and mustard. Brown was fined $100, but certainly has one of the best in-game food stories of all time.
Parrish vs. Brown
This poll is closed
Mickey Tettleton vs. Lou Whitaker
Mickey Tettleton is a two-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger winner, an unlike some of our other competitors was not a lifetime time, or even a long-time Tiger. Only four seasons of his 14 year career were spent in Detroit (though his last season with the team in 1994 was also he second appearance at the ASG).
During his tenure with the Tigers he moved around the field substantially, working as a catcher, a designated hitter, and a first baseman, primarily, though it wasn’t unheard of for him to show up in the outfield periodically. IT was his catching that earned him some notoriety, and in 1992 he was considered to be the best catcher in the American League.
Tettleton managed to hit not one but two home runs over the right field roof of Tiger Stadium, not a particularly easy feat, and he was also the first player to ever hit a ball onto Eutaw Street (behind Camden Yards). His time with the Tigers marked an uptick in his hitting, after it had begun a steady decline with he Orioles.
I give Tettleton a bit more word space only because there are few things we can say about Lou Whitaker that have not been said before. Whitaker, a lifetime Tiger and the double-play partner of Hall of Famer Alan Trammell, is perhaps one of the best-known players in Detroit Tigers history.
When you speak about Whitaker’s accolades, it’s best done by taking a deep breath first: Rookie of the Year in 1978, five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, four-time Silver Slugger winner, member of the 1984 Tigers World Series team, and 13th of ALL TIME in second base JAWS.
Whitaker is one of the most overlooked players in Hall of Fame history, and overlooked even by his own team, for taking until 2020 to retire his number.
Tettleton vs. Whitaker
This poll is closed
Remember to share your favorite memories of these players in the comments so we can use them in the next round! Happy voting.