By In Stuff

Favorite Athlete: Al Kaline

It was the way he carried himself, how he never complained, how although a great player he knew he was not in the same class as Mays, Mantle, and Aaron.  It was the way he never made a mental mistake.  It was the diving catch to save and end a 1962 game against the Yankees, when he broke his collarbone, video of which does not exist.  It was that he was so beloved that in the 1968 World Series his manager made the absurd decision to have the centerfielder play shortstop so Kaline could play right, and somehow it worked.
— Steve Fehr is special counsel to the NHL Players Association after serving in that role for the MLB Players Association. He was involved in baseball’s labor disputes going back to collusion in the 1980s and was, by numerous accounts, a key figure in helping baseball avoid work stoppages in the 2000s. He was also David Cone’s agent. And through it all, somehow, he has remained a deeply devoted fan to sports. 
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10 Responses to Favorite Athlete: Al Kaline

  1. Bob Post says:

    I don’t think I ever saw him play. And I really didn’t know much about him at all. But one day when I was 11 or 12, I saw his name on a baseball bat, and I thought it was funny that he was named after a battery. After that, he became one of my favorite names in baseball. But I still don’t know much about him.

  2. Bob Post says:

    I don’t think I ever saw him play. And I really didn’t know much about him at all. But one day when I was 11 or 12, I saw his name on a baseball bat, and I thought it was funny that he was named after a battery. After that, he became one of my favorite names in baseball. But I still don’t know much about him.

  3. tudorguy says:

    The real reason for Mickey Stanley replacing Ray Oyler at shortstop was his slash line of .259/.311/.364/.675 (OPS +102). Ray Oyler’s line was .135/.213/.186/.399 (for an OPS+ of 20!). Stanley got six hits in the Series, scored four runs and did not commit an error. Oyler would NOT have done as well. Kaline was brilliant in the 1968 Series: he got 11 hits, hit two homers and drove in 8 runs. Mayo Smith out-managed Red Schoendienst (and I speak as lifelong Cards fan).

  4. prophet says:

    Fan: “You ain’t half as good as Mantle.”
    Kaline: “Kid, no one is half as good as Mickey Mantle.”
    (during the 1956 season)

  5. David says:

    In 1957 there were only nine Gold Gloves for all the major leagues. The outfield: Al Kaline, Willie Mays and Minnie Minoso. And despite his low-key nature, Kaline had a league-wide nickname that spoke volumes … they simply called him Number Six. Everyone knew who it was.

  6. Rob Smith says:

    I didn’t see him play until the late 60s when he was on he downside of his career. I always thought his game was very understated. Efficient. His stats were not overwhelming, but he hit the ball, made the plays and just didn’t make mistakes. He’s very hard, for me, to quantify.

  7. Unknown says:

    Kaline somehow managed to produce a HOF career while getting hurt just about every season…which is one reason his stats, though solid, are not overwhelming. He had a very strong and accurate arm, as well as a quick release…and played RF brilliantly. (And RF in Briggs Stadium was real quirky, with lots of flukey angles.) Kaline was an absolute “picture book” type of player, doing everything exactly by the basics…always using both hands when catching the ball, left foot slightly in front to already be in throwing position, etc.
    In Aaron, Clemente, and Kaline…MLB had three of the finest right fielders ever playing at the same time.

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