Mensching: Step up, Tigers: Retire Whitaker’s number
Remember Don Kelly? He’ll be a scout for the Tigers this year.
Remember Brayan Pena? The Tigers are bringing him back into the organization on a minor-league deal.
Remember Brandon Inge? He’ll be at TigerFest this weekend.
The Tigers want to take advantage of the fact they can trot out fan, er, favorites during a period of time the organization won’t be contending, or for that matter playing competitive baseball.
The organization isn’t against dipping into the halcyon memories of the 1984 World Series winning club, either.
Remember Kirk Gibson? He’s a color commentator.
Remember Lance Parrish? The Tigers moved him back to Michigan, where he’ll be managing the Whitecaps this season after fronting the Erie SeaWolves in the past.
Remember Alan Trammell and Jack Morris? Well of course you do! And you can expect their jersey retirements to be big deals when they occur this August at Comerica Park.
I’ve got one of my own for the Tigers, though.
Remember Lou Whitaker?
You know, that guy who should be a Hall of Famer if the organization that voted on the Hall of Fame had paid an iota of attention to what was going on right in front of them?
Because it seems like the Tigers organization would rather you and everyone else just forget about Whitaker and leave them alone.
The Tigers are happy to provide empty memories and experiences to fans. But they seem a bit more loathe to be questioned about why they refuse to provide fans with the action they’ve been begging for.
And so this year, like all the others, the Tigers will not be honoring Lou Whitaker by retiring his jersey or placing his name in a spot of honor, because they have turned over the pen writing their history to the Baseball Writers Association of America and to a museum in New York afraid to look in the mirror because it won’t like some of the images that it sees.
That Trammell will enter the Hall of Fame without his middle infield partner, Whitaker, is travesty enough. That the Tigers will honor one without the other is a total disregard for their fans and their history.
It makes no sense.
You could forgive the Tigers if it felt undeserving.
No one wants a watered-down history book where every little thing is treated as some sort of historic occurrence to be heralded for the ages.
That’s not going on here.
Trammell and Whitaker made their major league debuts in 1977. Every season through 1995 the pair filled the middle infield together.
Trammell was a six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove, and three-time Silver Slugger, worth 70.4 WAR for his career.
Whitaker was named to five All-Star Teams, earned three Gold Gloves, four Silver Slugger awards, and was worth 74.9 WAR during a shorter career.
But we don’t need to relitigate this here. Time and time again, Whitaker’s career measured ranks among the best second basemen in history.
Just 2.9 percent of Hall of Fame voters realized that, and the Veterans Committee appeared to give him little consideration in selecting its candidates for a second look in 2017.
Remember Lou Whitaker? They don’t.
But their votes are the ones that count in the Tigers’ front offices.
Maybe you should tell them why they’re wrong. I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.
With all the past players they’d like you to remember, maybe you should help them to remember the one they forgot.
Hey, Tigers, remember Lou Whitaker?
His name and number deserves to be on the wall at Comerica Park.
No one should rest until it’s there.
Kurt Mensching is the editor of Bless You Boys, a Tigers blog (www.blessyouboys.com). He can be reached at email@example.com.