Kaline's importance to the organization reaches immeasurably beyond his on-field accolades, however.
Al Kaline, a Hall of Fame right fielder who recorded more than 3,000 hits and almost 400 home runs over his more than two decades playing for the Detroit Tigers, has died at age 85, the team said Monday.
The cause of death was not given. He made his debut for the Tigers as an 18-year-old kid near the end of the 1953 season without a minor league game under his belt, meaning he never stepped foot on a professional diamond as a member of any other team.
In his 1980 Hall of Fame induction speech, Kaline said he considered himself to be "one of the luckiest people in the world". Kaline is quoted as saying on his Baseball Hall of Fame profile.
"There have been a lot of great defensive players".
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"Many of us who are fortunate enough to work in baseball have our short lists of the players who mean the most to us". He finished his career with 3,007 hits, 399 home runs, 498 doubles, 75 triples and 1,582 RBIs - all of which were done while playing with the Tigers.
Major League Baseball presented Kaline in 1973 with the Roberto Clemente Award honoring the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, community involvement and contribution to his team. One of those numbers will always belong to Al Kaline. "R.I.P. Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline".
"I told him that he and Willie Mays were my 2 favorite players of all time and he sent me a picture of him and Willie that I cherish!" Kaline was set to continue working as a special assistant during the 2020 season.
"Today we lost one of our treasures". Even after he retired as a player, the next generation of Tigers fans who didn't have the good fortune to watch him play instead grew up listening to his insights, anecdotes and experience as one of the voices of Tigers baseball.
"He was a golden person, along with being a great ballplayer".