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Historic Tiger Baseball #24--Jim Northrup

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Today's Featured Tiger Player

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--Jim Northrup--

(1964-1975)

(click on name for statistics)

Jim Northrup recalls his playing days with the Tigers

by Jim Sargent

Baseball Digest, Feb, 2004

JAMES THOMAS "JIM" NORTHRUP, who came from a small town in his home state of Michigan and went on to fashion a first-rate major league career, was one of many heroes for the Detroit Tigers when the Motor City ballclub won the 1968 World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 12 big league seasons, almost 11 of which he played for Detroit, the left-handed hitting flychaser averaged .267 lifetime, connected for 153 home runs, scored 603 runs, produced 610 RBI, and played in 1,392 games, mostly in the outfield.

A clutch hitter and a good RBI man, Northrup belted four grand slams during the 1968 regular season. The lefty hit two slams in consecutive at-bats and three in the same week--and he had five opportunities for slams in that last week of June.

Also, Northrup is still remembered by Tiger fans for his World Series heroics in 1968:Hit grand slam home run in Game 6, which the Tigers won, 13-1.Clubbed a two-run triple in the seventh inning of climatic Game 7, which Detroit won, 4-1.

Born on November 24, 1939, Northrup grew up in Breckinridge, and his father taught Jim and younger brothers Jerry and Mickey (who died of leukemia at age 15) to love team sports, hunting, and fishing. After developing into an excellent athlete at St. Louis High, Jim became a five-sport star at nearby Alma College.

Northrup was a standout in every sport young men could play at Alma. As a junior, he started at quarterback in football (he made small college All-American) and forward in basketball. In baseball, he was a right-handed pitcher (he threw two no-hitters) who often played center field or first base. Jim also ran track and golfed, a sport he still plays. Further, he was a good student, although his graduation was delayed 40 years because he signed a contract with the Tigers.

"You're born with talent, not made," Northrup explained in a 2003 interview. "I was born to play baseball, and I did. I grew up being a Tiger fan, and I'll always be a Tiger fan. But my hero was Ted Williams. I'm a left-hander, so I admired Ted.

"But I grew up knowing I would make the major leagues. I'm fortunate that I had that opportunity, and it worked out well for me."

Witty, straightforward, and down-to-earth, the personable Northrup has a disarming sense of humor. On the field, however, he was an intense competitor who worked to focus his talent and his emotions and to make the most of his good athletic skills.

Jim had offers from the New York Titans, later renamed the Jets, of the American Football League, and also from the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. But the Titans offered a contract only if he made the team. The Tigers guaranteed the money, so he decided on baseball....

Click here to continue reading this great, long article

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Before Gibson came along, Northrup was arguably the best all-around athlete ever to don a Tiger uniform ......

What about Mickey Stanley? I don't know much about him other than stats and a vague memory of watching him play but to be considered the best centerfielder in the game and be able to play SS in the World Series at the drop of a hat (I know he had a couple of tryouts first) takes some remarkable athletic skills but could he be one of those guys with remarkable baseball intelligence and that's what carried him?

BTW, I think one might make the case for Juan Encarnacion being the best athlete the Tigers had. I think if he grew up in the US he would have been a star in multiple sports. He just seems to lack baseball instincts.

:rambo: :rambo: :chinese::rambo: :rambo:

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What about Mickey Stanley? I don't know much about him other than stats and a vague memory of watching him play but to be considered the best centerfielder in the game and be able to play SS in the World Series at the drop of a hat (I know he had a couple of tryouts first) takes some remarkable athletic skills but could he be one of those guys with remarkable baseball intelligence and that's what carried him?

Having never seen the Mick play, my assumption would be he was a very talented athlete given his move to SS for the '68 World Series.

BTW, I think one might make the case for Juan Encarnacion being the best athlete the Tigers had. I think if he grew up in the US he would have been a star in multiple sports. He just seems to lack baseball instincts.

Very odd about his instincts considering that baseball is king where he grew up.

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Having never seen the Mick play, my assumption would be he was a very talented athlete given his move to SS for the '68 World Series.

If you read on in the article from Baseball Digest, Northrup says that everyone was worried about Stanley playing SS in the Series except for his teammates because they all knew he was an incredible athlete.

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I loved Baseball Digest when I was growing up. I totally forgot about it too. Thanks Bert!

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