Mark My Words – Goodbye, Mr. Tiger; Hello, Quarantine

As a child growing up, two things I fondly remember about the Detroit Tigers were the broadcasting teams:  Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey on the radio and George Kell and Al Kaline on TV.

I spent many summer nights listening to Harwell and Carey on the clock radio in my bedroom.  I may be biased, but there wasn’t a better broadcasting duo on radio than those two.

As for Kell and Kaline, I recall many Sunday afternoons spent watching them and the Tigers in my grandparents’ den.  I don’t think I really understood what great players those two men were former. They were Tiger greats!  I knew they were former players but beyond that, I was more focused on the current, at the time, Tigers.

I also remember that anytime my Grandpa Wellington and I were watching the game, if the Tigers fell behind or gave up some runs, he would say, “There goes the ballgame” and leave the room to read the paper.

Kell and Kaline were a great team, but for some reason, Kaline stood out to me.  Since my childhood was in the “pre-internet” era, I had to search for information on Mr. Kaline, and wow, was I impressed. What a great story.

From starting with the Tigers as an 18-year old boy in 1953 until his last game in 1974, Kaline won the hearts of not only the Tiger faithful, but Major League Baseball in general.

From all reports, he was a likeable, kind and compassionate man.  I never met him, but just reading all the tributes from players and those involved in MLB and beyond, you get a feel for the type of man Mr. Kaline was.  And even before his passing, you never read or heard anything different, either.

What I find remarkable was his dedication to the team that he played his entire Hall of Fame career for.  After his retirement in 1974, Kaline stayed in Detroit and turned his focus to broadcasting.  From 1975 through 2002, Kaline served as the color commentator for the team.  When he retired from that, he became a special assistant to the team, which included coaching and mentoring players.

What is amazing to me, and I didn’t realize this until recently, is that he still had a locker in the dressing room.  He cared so deeply about the Tigers and he was there to help and guide players to the very end.

Here are a few quotes from players.

Kirk Gibson:  “He taught me virtually everything,” Gibson said. “90-plus percent of what I knew out there.”

Justin Verlander: “Such a kind and generous man who meant so much to so many. I hope you knew how much I enjoyed our conversations about baseball, life, or just giving each other a hard time.”

Wade Boggs:  “Sad to hear we’ve lost a beloved member of our HOF family, one of the nicest and most sincere I’ve ever met. Al Kaline, you will be dearly missed, my friend. Thoughts and prayers go out Louise and family.”

A remarkable 67 years playing and working for the same franchise.  The saying goes, “Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger”. Kaline showed exactly what that meant. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Tiger.  You will be missed.

Before hearing the news of Mr. Kaline’s passing, I was out doing yard work with the family.  That is one of the many things we have been doing to pass the time during the “stay at home” order we have been under.

There have been areas of “concern” in our yard since we have moved in, and we are finally tackling them, and it is quite the undertaking.

On top of that, we are cleaning, organizing and gathering things for the annual neighborhood garage sales, if we are allowed to have them.  If not, our basement will be more organized, but still overloaded.  I would be remiss that we are also binge watching the show “Hoarders”, which I think helps us with this process.

As a family we are taking many more walks, sometimes even twice a day.  Actually, the number of walkers in our neighborhood has gone up significantly the past few weeks. We are seeing people we have never seen before walking by our house.

We have had many more family game nights, family meal planning, family movies, and family puzzle time.  Full disclosure, the last one has dwindled down to mainly me, but once in a while someone else will take a seat at the puzzle table and work on it for a few minutes.

It is funny that a few short months ago, we were so busy we could hardly wait for a break between school, hockey practice, hockey games, skating lessons, play rehearsals, and all the rest.    We now miss all of that, but at the same time, how often are you going to get this time with your family?   I know it is not this way in all households, and for those of you still working, THANK YOU.   I think it is safe to say, we all want to be back to work, but for those of you that are out there every day, you have our sincerest gratitude and appreciation.

Submitted by Mark McGlothlen

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