Finally, Lou Whitaker is about to get his flowers.
The former Detroit Tigers runner-up, also known as “Sweet Low,” will retire Saturday at Comerica Park before the Tigers play the Tampa Bay Rays.
Half of a midfield pair of “Tram and Lou” along with short Alan Trammell, Whitaker won the World Championship with the Tigers and put together a 19-year career close to Hall-of-Fame worthy without actually entering the Hall of Fame.
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Before Whitaker retires, let’s take a look at 10 of the most memorable moments in a Tiger costume.
1. MLB Debut With Trammell
September 9, 1977
The year is 1977. It’s been nine years since the Tigers last won a world championship, and five years since their last playoff appearance for Detroit. Tigers 67-74 heading into Game 142 at Boston Fenway Park with nothing to lose.
Enter: a midfield duo that would lead two decades of Tigers baseball. Whittaker and Trammell—or, as they became known, “Tram and Lou”—both debuted on September 9, 1977, and while the Tigers were down to the Red Sox, 8-6, three-hit, one-hit—it would be an RBI show (including the first hit) His success from Reggie Cleveland) from Whitaker is a sign of things to come.
2. Delayed first blow job
April 17, 1978
After eight matches of excitement in the 1977 season, Whitaker became the first baseman in second base the following year. He struggled during his first few games of the season, scoring three hits through 18 games.
But with the Tigers trailing 9-6 in the eighth inning against the White Sox – a game that Chicago led, 6-0, past a fifth-place climax – Whitaker was called to pin the punch for Steve Dillard. He singled out in the center and got another hit at the bottom of the ninth place after a double from Ron LeFleur cut the difference to 9-8. With two runners at the center of the recording, “Sweet Lou” brought LeFlore and Phil Mankowski home with one song to the right on his first lightning strike.
3. Homer’s first job
July 28, 1978
It took a few years before Whitaker’s racket developed extra strength, but his first career game—the 98 games of his MLB career—was an absolute whale for a moment.
The Seattle Mariners entered the ninth game of the game at Tiger Stadium, with a 3-2 lead. LeFlore hit a solo song to keep Detroit alive, and with Whitaker coming on the racket next, Whitaker was supposed to hit another hit or walk to take LeFlore to the recording center; But he didn’t.
Instead, Whitaker fired Seattle’s Enrique Romo into the right stands, creating one of the first moments of his career as the Tigers won 4-3.
5. Run the house into the garden
August 13, 1978
After Whitaker finally got his first career out of the way, it looks like he’s been getting a taste of more. How do you go about hitting your first home run with equally exciting play? I hit a track on his land that doesn’t leave the park, of course.
Whitaker smoked a ball into the right center gap off Pablo Torrealba and, with his under-160-pound tire, made it around the rules in his second career — and first inside a parker. While it may not be the most important moment of Whitaker’s career, it shows the excitement he exploded onto the scene in the junior season.
4. Rookie of the Year
This may not be a moment in the field, per se, but rather confirmation that the Tigers were building a solid foundation after the victories of the 1960s and lows of the mid-1970s.
At the age of 20, Whitaker cut .285/.361/.357 during the 1978 season en route to a major victory in the Rookie of the Year vote over Brewers player Paul Molitor, third Angels Carney Lansford, and Royals pitcher Rich Gale and Trammell.
And not for nothing, the Tigers’ young duo propelled the team to a record 86-76 that season, starting an 11-year streak with a top-of-0.500 record.
6. World Championship 1984
Although Whitaker, as the Tigers’ captain, did not capture the RBI during the 1984 World Championships – thus depriving him of a “world championship moment” similar to that of teammate Kirk Gibson – he contributed to the series’ win by collecting five hits, four Walks, scored six runs for the team.
With Detroit advancing 2-1 in a series heading into the pivotal game 4 against the San Diego Padres, Whitaker settled on the base twice ahead of Trammell – once on a foul – who converted both chances into leading tied with two running sets that account for each run in a 4-win win. 2 for tigers would put a stifling grip on the chain.
Detroit won it all—and Whitaker’s second daughter—was born the next day.
7. The house ran over the rooftop at Tiger Stadium
May 13, 1985
Who said this guy’s bat doesn’t have enough pop?
Whitaker found a stroke in 1985, notching 21 home runs (the first of four seasons with 20-plus homes) to earn the solo season franchise second baseman for the Tigers—a mark he would have topped by 28 in 1989.
All things considered, his fourth home run that season, off Burt Hutton of the Texas Rangers, may be the most impressive of his career: He made a first-half home lead on the rooftop at Tiger Stadium, only 20 times he’s been done until that moment.
“That run home was just another hit for me. I knew I hit the ball really well. Where did I go…I don’t really care,” Whitaker told reporters after the game.
8. Homering off Gooden in the All-Star Game
July 15 1986
Technically, Whitaker didn’t factor in RBI’s 1986 All-Star Game win, but his two home runs outside of Dwight “Doc” Gooden in the second half made a difference in the score with a 3-2 MLS win.
But to really understand why this is one of the most iconic moments of his career, you have to 1.) Remember that Whitaker was one of the most underrated players at the league level and 2.) Understand that Godin was an absolute threat in the first two seasons of his career. his career, as he bragged in the home race of all-nine of 0.4 between 1985-1986.
9. A Grand Slam exit against Cleveland
Jun 21 1994
By 1994, the second-to-last year in the Whitaker and Trammell careers, the Tigers were swinging. They missed the playoffs six seasons in a row and the careers of the remaining two “Bless You Boys” stars were ending.
But near the halfway point of the season, where they welcomed the leading Cleveland Indians to AL Central, they were still in the playoffs.
After entering the ninth inning with a 5-1 lead, Detroit eliminated two runners to bring Whitaker with the loaded bases and one in a 5-3 game. Whitaker brought Tiger Stadium to his feet with a home run upstairs in right field that put Detroit in the space of six games from first place in the Middle East.
10. Going out with a bang
September 13, 1995
The Tigers finished the 1995 season, the Whitaker’s last season in baseball, with 26 first-place runs. The season ended early and Whitaker played only 84 games due to injury. It may not have materialized at the time, but his final hit will come to an end on September 13th against the Milwaukee Brewers.
He climbed to the plate against Mike Fitters with two contestants and a one-time deficit. Just like his first home run, it’s probably safe to assume he was just trying to keep the streak going. Like his first home run, he made a home run into the deep right field to give the Tigers a landslide victory.
Whitaker will have 12 more games over six games to close out the season, but he appears satisfied with his job. His final hit would still be a three-way sprint, a home run in front of the Detroit crowd.