Trammell on No. 3: I would've been fine wearing 99

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Alan Trammell

Many Tigers fans believe No. 3 should never be worn again.

This weekend at Comerica Park, though, there were two Tigers wearing No. 3.

Alan Trammell was back on the field, as a first-base coach, filling in for Dave Clark, who missed three of the Texas Rangers games for the wedding of his daughter.

During the three games, Ian Kinsler -- who asked Trammell and received permission to wear his number after being traded to the team two winters ago -- also wore No. 3.

"You know, it's great," Trammell said over the phone Tuesday, taking a brief break from working with minor-leaguers in Lakeland, Florida. "It's the number I wore.

"But I'm not trying to make light of this thing. I'm wearing for what's on front."

Trammell wore No. 42 his first season in the majors, after a 1977 callup. That offseason, the Tigers sold No. 3, second baseman Tito Fuentes, to the Montreal Expos to make room for a kid named Lou Whitaker.

Ever since, Trammell and No. 3 have been linked in Detroit sports lore -- with fans ranking from confused to irate as to why the team hasn't yet retired it in his honor, given the 20 years he spent playing shortstop in Detroit.

During a one-game stint as a coach earlier this summer, after the death of Omar Vizquel's father, Trammell wore No. 4 for a road game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

But clubhouse manager Jim Schmakel just couldn't bring himself to give Trammell No. 4 for a home game, even if it meant having two No. 3s on the field together.

"I didn't want to make a big deal out of it," Trammell said. "But I wasn't going to say no. People think of me with that number, that's great. I appreciate it.

"But if they would've given me 99 or whatever, it would've been the same."

Trammell, 57, said his main focus during the Rangers series was on "not getting anyone thrown out," and he lamented the fact the Tigers went 0-3 with him at first base.

More than anything, he said, it was just nice to wear a major-league uniform again.

Trammell, along with Kirk Gibson, was fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks late last season, before taking his new job as a special adviser to then-general manager Dave Dombrowski. Trammell is staying on to work with new GM Al Avila.

That said, did wearing No. 3 again give him a bit of the coaching itch?

"You never say never, but I'm very happy doing what I'm doing," said Trammell, whose travels this month and next will take him around the Tigers' minor-league stops, including Erie this week. "I'm part of it, they include me."

The Tigers have never said publicly why Trammell's No. 3 and Whitaker's No. 1 haven't been retired.

The popular theory is owner Mike Ilitch prefers to wait until they are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which could come in the next five years when the Veteran's Committee takes up their case.