'Mr. Tiger,’ baseball Hall of Famer Al Kaline, dead at 85

Baseball Hall of Famer Al Kaline dead at 85

Baseball Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who spent 22 seasons patrolling the outfield for the Detroit Tigers, died Monday afternoon, the Detroit Free Press reported. He was 85.

Kaline died at his home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the newspaper reported, citing John Morad, a family friend, A cause of death was not available.

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Kaline, a Baltimore native, joined the Tigers as an 18-year-old in 1953. He won the American League batting title in 1955, his second full season, leading the league with 200 hits while batting .340. Kaline never played a day in the minor leagues.

In 22 seasons with the Tigers, mostly playing right field, “Mr.Tiger” collected 3,007 hits and hit 399 home runs. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980. Kaline was an 18-time All-Star selection and made it to the World Series in 1968, when Detroit rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win the Fall Classic in seven games.

Kaline made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter June 25, 1953, against the Philadelphia Athletics at Connie Mack Stadium. He did not start a game until three months later, The Detroit News reported.

“It was a dog-eat-dog world back then among players,” Kaline told The News in 2014. "When I first joined the team, I was looked down on, because I was an 18-year-old kid taking a veteran’s job away from him.

“So a lot of guys were thinking, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ It’s true, I had a guy grab me my first day in uniform, saying he didn’t want me around.”

Kaline batted over .300 11 times and finished with a .297 career average. He also won 10 Gold Gloves.

The Tigers retired Kaline’s No. 6, one of nine players in Detroit to have their uniforms retired. He is one of six men to have a statue at Detroit’s Comerica Park, the News reported.

After retiring in 1975, Kaline joined the Tigers’ television broadcast team as an analyst the following year, the Free Press reported. He joined the Tigers’ front office as an assistant in 2002.