Detroit — It continues to frustrate Tigers fans.
And, sure, it frustrates the Tigers of yesteryear, too, that no player on that 1984 World Series championship team is represented in Cooperstown.
That puts the 1984 Tigers alongside the 1981 Dodgers as the only two World Series champions, pre-1995, not to have a Hall of Fame player.
“It’s because we’re Detroit, and not New York or Boston. You understand that?” said Paul Carey, Ernie Harwell’s long-time partner on Tigers broadcasts. “We’re west of the Hudson River, and that’s the problem.”
There are three players on that team that many believe deserve Hall of Fame consideration. Two of them, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, were in attendance at Comerica Park on Monday night when the Tigers celebrated the 30th anniversary of the last Detroit team to win a World Series.
And while guys like Barry Larkin and Ryne Sandberg have cruised to induction, their contemporaries from Detroit haven’t.
Whitaker, the smooth second baseman, couldn’t even last more than the one year, 2001, that he was on the ballot. And Trammell, the star shortstop, is going nowhere. He’s never received even half the votes needed for election, with two more years of eligibility remaining.
That’s not to say all hope is lost, however. There’s an Expansion Era committee created to induct those who fall through the cracks. Trammell, Whitaker and Jack Morris, who went 0-for-15-years on the Hall of Fame ballot, certainly will get serious consideration.
And it actually opens up the possibility Trammell and Whitaker could go in together just like they played — side by side.
Endings don’t get any happier than that.
“I agree, I agree,” said Trammell, in town for just a day off before joining in Pittsburgh his Arizona Diamondbacks, for whom he’s the bench coach.
“We were brought up together, the same day (in 1977). And if we happened to get selected and we went in together, to me that would be the dream. That would be the way I would script it.”
The Hall of Fame’s Expansion Era committee meets every three years, and are next scheduled to meet again in 2016 for induction in 2017. Whitaker would be eligible for that, but Trammell would not — because he’d be 20 years retired, one shy of the eligibility requirement.
That means in 2019, for induction in 2020, would be the first chance for the longest double-play combination in baseball history to be recognized together.
And that’s what Whitaker, who’s eligible earlier, is pulling for.
“That’s the way it should be,” said Whitaker, decked out in shades and a fedora Monday. “I wouldn’t feel right going in if Tram wasn’t there. We played together, our numbers are the same, we were a combination.”
Whitaker is right. The numbers are scarily similar: They finished just four hits apart for their careers. Whitaker played 19 years, and Trammell one more.
Both received rousing ovations at the ballpark Monday, and the roars grew even louder when they set up for the ceremonial first pitch — only for Whitaker to wave Trammell out from behind home plate. Trammell headed to short, Whitaker to second, and they started a ceremonial double play — with Dave Bergman making a nice reach to finish it off at first.
“You don’t rush greatness. … We’ll wait. Our day will come,” said Whitaker, 57. “We know we deserve it. But, you know, what’s good about bragging about it, telling you guys how good we were? We know how good we were.”
No, Trammell never won an MVP. No, Whitaker wasn’t a media darling. The Tigers of the 1980s probably should’ve won at least one more World Series title. Those are believed to be the most popular reasons behind the Hall of Fame snubs.
But those reasons won’t last forever, and are very unlikely to hold water with an Expansion Era committee made up of former managers, executives and older baseball writers.
“It’s out of my hands,” said Trammell, 56. “There’s nothing else I can do. I’m not going to self-promote; that’s not my style. We knew we could play, the stories and the memories are there.
"And if it doesn’t happen to be, you know what, it’s been a great ride.”