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Thread: Sweet Lou stops by
02-27-2003, 06:33 AM #1
Sweet Lou stops by
Steve Perez / The Detroit News
Former Tiger Lou Whitaker has an open invitation from Manager Alan Trammell to stop by spring training.
Whitaker watches Tigers
Ex-second baseman gives team another solid link to the past
By Tom Gage / The Detroit News
Steve Perez / The Detroit News
Lou Whitaker, seated with his back to the camera at right, holds court with several current Tigers before the Florida Southern game.
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LAKELAND, Fla. -- If the objective of the new Tigers, the Alan Trammell Tigers, is to combine the past with a more promising future, they are off to a good start on both fronts.
With former Tiger Lou Whitaker on hand, and becoming a more frequent visitor than at any other time since his retirement following the 1995 season, the Tigers got over what can be a tricky first hurdle.
In what otherwise is a game that draws little notice, unless they come close to losing, the Tigers clobbered Florida Southern College, 19-2, Wednesday before a crowd of 2,255 at Marchant Stadium.
This hasn't always been a cakewalk for the Tigers. Last year, for instance, they won 5-4. Three years ago, it was in the Florida Southern game that Juan Gonzalez pulled a hamstring while trying to score from second base -- the first of his many injuries that year.
But there were no such scares this time. Brandon Inge had a double, an inside-the-park home run and four RBI. The Tigers hit three other home runs, including one by George Lombard, who hopes to win the starting job in center field.
Defensively, the day was highlighted by a sprawling play at third base by Dmitri Young, who will be used at a number of positions this spring now that he's lost his first-base job to Carlos Pena.
"It was a day we'll use as a good day, nothing more than that," Trammell said. "No one was bad."
More than just the usual crew of 1984 Tigers was watching, however. Whitaker not only was at the ballpark, and sat in on a pregame meeting, but also was unusually talkative.
In what could be his longest interview since his retirement, he spoke about what the Tigers still mean to him, what kind of manager he believes Trammell will be, as well as commenting for the first time on the fact he got such little support in his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame that he's no longer on the ballot.
"I'll always be a Tiger," he said. "I didn't come out more before because Tram wasn't the manager. I didn't want to interfere."
But Trammell has given him an open invitation to visit whenever he wants and even be in uniform if he so chooses -- which Whitaker, who lives in Lakeland, appreciates.
"He'll create a good relationship with his players," he said about Trammell. "He'll definitely do that. There will be camaraderie and communication with his players. And trust. The winning and losing they'll care of themselves."
Of the Hall of Fame, Whitaker said he feels he belongs if compared with other second basemen, but isn't so sure when compared with the great players of the game "like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays."
"Lou was good," he said about himself, "but I don't know about it when you're talking about those guys. I'm sure the Hall of Fame means something to everyone. But you won't see Lou weeping about it."
Whitaker said he was "a nasty, rude man when it came to the game. That's how I was all my life as a player. It was not an easy game to play and not an easy game to win. I preferred doing it to talking about it."
But does it bother him that he didn't get the recognition he deserved as a player?
"I never looked for it in the first place," he said. "Talking about the game wasn't me. That sums it up."
What sums up Wednesday's events is that the Tigers won big against a college team they've occasionally struggled against and Whitaker returned. Taken separately, they might not mean much. But together, they tied together the better times of the past with the hope of better times to come."I don't believe a manager ever won a pennant. Casey Stengel won all those pennants with the Yankees. How many did he win with the Boston Braves and Mets? I've never seen a team win a pennant without players. I think the only thing the manager has to do is keep things within certain boundaries."
02-27-2003, 06:58 AM #2
That is cool. It also looks like he lost most of that huge beer gut he had in 99.VT Twitter
IO% is clearly superior to OE%.
02-27-2003, 07:04 AM #3
And there he is my all-time favorite Tiger. Good to see him make an apperance!John 16:33
02-27-2003, 08:57 AM #4
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I don't want to over-emphasize the importance of this story, but this is the best I've felt about the Tigers since Tram retired.
02-27-2003, 09:21 AM #5
I've always had the opinion that Illitch and the people he has hired had a bad attitude toward the 84 Tigers. I didn't like how Trammell was treated in the past, and a few others too. It seemed like the Illitch brigade just wasn't cool about the "old" Tigers. There was a lack of respect. Now, it seems like Illitch and his crew are finally waking up. These guys were our heroes and deservedly so. With the statues at Comerica Park and the hiring of Trammell et al - Illitch is making up for the past - and it just fits real nice! How wonderful to see Sweet Lou finally back, where he belongs. That dude should be a coach, teaching our infielders, like Santiago and Infante and Espinosa some of his fancy tricks! Lou made it look so easy. It's just wonderful to see the Tigers of old back where they belong!we only part to meet again vt BRIAN BLUHM vt
02-27-2003, 09:29 AM #6
Re: whitakerOriginally posted by eastside billee
I've always had the opinion that Illitch and the people he has hired had a bad attitude toward the 84 Tigers. I didn't like how Trammell was treated in the past, and a few others too. It seemed like the Illitch brigade just wasn't cool about the "old" Tigers. There was a lack of respect. Now, it seems like Illitch and his crew are finally waking up. These guys were our heroes and deservedly so. With the statues at Comerica Park and the hiring of Trammell et al - Illitch is making up for the past - and it just fits real nice! How wonderful to see Sweet Lou finally back, where he belongs. That dude should be a coach, teaching our infielders, like Santiago and Infante and Espinosa some of his fancy tricks! Lou made it look so easy. It's just wonderful to see the Tigers of old back where they belong!VT
02-27-2003, 09:59 AM #7MotownSports Fan
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nice vest on Sweet Lou! This is as good as I've felt about the Tigers since Fick left.AAT '12 - Dan Schlereth
02-27-2003, 10:02 AM #8
He looks pretty decent. He shouldn't be calling himself Low though. That's just not right. It was in one of the other articles I read on Lou's visit (Freep or Michigan Live) that Trammell said his hitters were going to be force to take pitches. I like that.
02-27-2003, 11:11 AM #9
You never want to put too much into spring training but I love the atmosphere that Trammell is creating with this camp. Players from 68 and 84 coming to camp and showing the players that there is a lot of respect and pride that comes with wearing the old english D. And like I said before - does it mean we'll win 65 instead of 60 (numbers I just picked)? No it doesn't, but it shows that the players are going to learn a little about pride and tradition. And in terms of the long run if those things can be brought back to the Tigers we will at least have the semblance of a true professional team again instead of the whining babies we've dealt with the last 5-8 years or so.
02-27-2003, 11:18 AM #10
There are people that don't get as much out of their talents because of lack of discipline and proper instruction. I put myself in that category, more for the former than the latter. So I do believe that if discipline and instruction are instilled the right way, there will be players that can surprise you.
Pat Burrell is a good example. I haven't gottena chance to watch him much so I'm going (sorry jake) on Baseball Prospectus on this. But they were saying how he had a bad year in 2001 due to a hitting coach that believed you can't be successful unless you swing the bat.
In 2002 his hitting coach stressed patience, waiting for the right pitch and taking a walk. The results speak for themselves.
Is it likely that all the players who have not displayed patience and good baseball skills int he past will become good? Nope. It is possible that there are those that will. Without proper discipline and teaching you'd never know.
These guys seem to be ont he right track.
02-28-2003, 12:01 AM #11Originally posted by DTroppens
... but it shows that the players are going to learn a little about pride and tradition. And in terms of the long run if those things can be brought back to the Tigers we will at least have the semblance of a true professional team again instead of the whining babies we've dealt with the last 5-8 years or so.Son, if I'd only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes... now that would have been a tragedy.