In news that can only be summarized with “about darned time,” the Detroit Tigers announced this week they will be retiring Lou Whitaker’s jersey number.
But wait, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, because you have. The original announcement of this retirement came in 2019, so why are we still talking about it like it’s news? Because when the Tigers originally planned for the retirement, the ceremony was meant to take place in August of 2020 (in fact we had been planning the annual Bless You Boys meet up around the event). There were some events that took place over 2020 that stopped the ceremony from taking place, and a lot of people seemed to forget it was ever planned.
Now, with live fan attendance restored, the Tigers have begun plans for a new retirement ceremony, this time in 2022, when hopefully 100 percent fan attendance can be achieved.
"Sweet Lou" Whitaker is celebrating a birthday today and we're here to remind people of not only his Cooperstown worthy career, but the upcoming number retirement of Whitaker's #1 next season.#DetroitRoots pic.twitter.com/kzCQStEh5m— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) May 13, 2021
The iconic number 1, most recently worn by Josh Harrison in 2019, has been worn by 21 former Detroit Tigers, but most famously and for the longest time, by second baseman Lou Whitaker. Whitaker, unquestionably one of the greatest second basemen in Tigers history, and one half of the incredible double-play duo of Whitaker and Alan Trammell.
Whitaker has famously been snubbed by the Hall of Fame on repeated occasions, something that both myself and our site manager Brandon have lamented in the past. Whitaker is one of the best second basemen not only in Tigers history, but in baseball history. By JAWS metrics he ranks 13th of all-time, right between Jackie Robinson and Roberto Alomar, both of whom are Hall of Famers.
While it may take longer for the Hall of Fame to recognize his rightful place in their hallowed halls, it has been a long time coming for the Tigers to give him his due. Trammell’s number 3 was retired in 2018, and during the ceremony, where Whitaker was present, Trammell said, “To play with Whitaker was an absolute joy. Without him, I would not be here today. My hope, my dream is that some day, Lou will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and have his jersey retired here at Comerica park, like the rest of the Tiger greats.”
It may have taken them three more years to get it done, but the Tigers are finally fulfilling one half of Tram’s wish, and Lou’s number will soon grace the brick outfield wall alongside names like Gehringer, Greenberg, Kaline, and Trammell himself.
Your turn, Hall of Fame.