The retirement of Lou Whitaker’s jersey number was a moment many Tigers fans thought would never happen. Historically, the Tigers have been notoriously stingy in terms of the number of retirees, bestowing the special distinction only on former players or managers who fought their way into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
To date, there were only eight Tigers players whose numbers the team saw fit to retire, and a ninth retired number being that of legend Jackie Robinson. Of all those eight numbers, every player (and manager) has a plaque in Cooperstown: Charlie Gehringer (2); Alan Trammel (3); Hank Greenberg (5); Al Kaline (6); “sparkling” Anderson (11); Hal Newhouser (16); Willie Horton (23); and Jack Morris (47).
On August 6, the Tigers will add a 10th number to the wall, the ninth Tigers player to have his number retired, and it will belong to Lou Whitaker. He and Horton are the only players in the mix not to be in the Hall of Fame.
It’s a bittersweet moment, because every Tigers fan and most baseball historians know that Lou belongs in Cooperstown alongside his double-playing partner Alan Trammell. For only half of this dynamic duo, being considered worthy of the Hall of Fame is an affront no matter how you look at it, and Trammell himself has been a strong advocate for Lou’s membership in the Hall. with him.
Lou Whitaker ranks 13th all-time in JAWS for second basement. JAWS, the metric established by FanGraphs writer Jay Jaffe to assess peak career WAR and Hall of Fame player value, does a very solid job of determining which players have a record for a Hall of Fame career. Fame. Lou Whitaker is one of only two retired top 15 players not in the Hall of Fame, the other being Bobby Grich (there’s a whole other wave of talk surrounding Grich that’s overlooked, but we don’t we won’t dwell on that here). The fact that Whitaker has a career WAR of 75.1, which is actually better than many inductees above him on the list, shines an unfortunate spotlight on his exclusion.
Whitaker is a Hall of Famer, and at this point the only way for him to get there is by a vote of the Hall Era Committees, which has so far salted the dynamic infielder. Perhaps if the Tigers finally take the proper steps to honor one of their all-time greats, voters of the era might start paying attention to someone whose trip to Cooperstown is long overdue. .
As for the Tigers, it’s a joy to see them spend this week putting Lou in the spotlight, and seeing his No. 1 on the outside bricks is going to bring more than a few stoic fans to tears on Saturday night.
Enjoy some of the best Whitaker content from the past week.
We have a special guest helping us honor Lou today.
You’ll want to arrive early for this.
️ Doors open at 4:00 a.m. ET
Be in your seats at 5:15 a.m. ET pic.twitter.com/msRNIOancS
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 6, 2022
The Hall of Fame is proud to join the @tigers and baseball fans around the world to celebrate the retirement of Lou Whitaker’s jersey number, Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2000.
— Michigan Sports HOF (@MSHOF) August 5, 2022
The Tigers retire Lou Whitaker’s No. 1 jersey in a ceremony on Saturday.
Whitaker will be the 10th player in franchise history to have his number retired. pic.twitter.com/AYZJDAixr0
—Brad Galli (@BradGalli) August 6, 2022
Good day Lou Whitaker to all.