They were born 48 years apart, one on December 18, 1886, in The Narrows, Georgia, and the other on December 19, 1934, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Two men, Ty Cobb, and Al Kaline, the two greatest players in Detroit Tigers history, are forever joined in a great debate this time of year, on their Birthday's... "who's the greatest Tigers player of All-Time, Cobb or Kaline?"
Two great baseball players, outfielders who could run, hit, field...there was nothing either one of those men couldn't do.
The annual debate as to what player is #1 in Tigers history had always baffled me.
Because Ty Cobb, the owner of 4,192 base hits, a .367 lifetime batting average, 12 American League Batting Championships, and the first player ever inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame, is the best player to ever wear the Olde English D.
Look, I get it, it's Al Kaline, Mr. Tiger... 399 home runs, the most ever by a Tigers player, 3,007 base hits, 10 Gold Glove Awards, the youngest batting champion ever, at age 20 in 1955...beating out Ty Cobb by one day, and also, like Cobb, is in the HOF.
I grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, saw Kaline at the end of his career....never saw Cobb play, we just see old black and white photos and news reel clips of The Georgia Peach dominating the game.
Now, with every game on TV, highlights of the newest greatest Tigers player, Miguel Cabrera is causing debate that he, not Kaline, or Cobb, is the best Motown ballplayer ever.
Cabrera, the best hitter in baseball today, has won two American League MVP Awards , in 2012 and 2013, and in 2012 won the Triple Crown, just like Cobb did in 1909, although Cobb's 9 homers pale in comparison to the 44 home runs Cabrera hit in 2012.
Cabrera's 2012 Triple Crown was the first by any big leaguer since 1967.
I love Miggy, he's been a great Tigers player since he arrived in Motown in 2008, but the simple answer to the annual debate starts and ends with Cobb.
There's simply nothing any player, Cabrera included, can do to unseat Ty Cobb.
On Twitter I often see baseball fans...Tigers fans, try to use Cabrera's stats as being far superior to any player to ever play in Detroit.
The retoric is unfounded.
Because Cabrera played 5 years in Miami, and those stats are Marlins stats, and not Tigers stats.
Ty Cobb collected 3,900 base hits as a member of the Tigers... that total will never be approached by any player in Detroit.
Cabrera may reach 3,000 hits in his career, but his total isn't likely to include 3,000 hits as a Tigers player...he has 1,489 base hits as a Tigers player... Al Kaline sits at 3,007 base hits as a Tigers player...
COBB... 3,900 Detroit Tigers base hits
KALINE... 3,007 Detroit Tigers base hits
CABRERA... 1,489 Detroit Tigers base hits
Cabrera needs 1,518 more hits to tie Kaline...and 2,411 more hits to get to Cobb.
Cabrera has a magnificent. 326 batting average as a Detroit Tigers player... he beats Kaline at .297, but can't reach Cobb at .367...the highest lifetime batting average in baseball history.
Kaline hit 399 HRs as a Tigers player, Cabrera has hit 270 HRs as a Tigers player...Cabrera is likely to become the teams All-Time HR leader.
Ty Cobb had 1,800 RBI in Motown, Kaline had 1,582 RBIs in a Detroit uniform, and Cabrera has 922 RBI and counting.
It's possible...not likely though, that Cabrera could get to Cobb in RBI... Cobb had 164 RBI his final 2 years as a Tigers player.
Now, none of what I'm saying is meant to diminish either Cabrera or Kaline, I wouldn't ever do that.
What I'm showing is that no matter how fans try and insert their favorite Tigers player as the best ever... hey, Sam Crawford, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Alan Trammell, they all have their place in the 114 years of Detroit Tigers baseball.
The Detroit Tigers will begin their 115th season in the American League next year looking to get back to the top of the A.L. Central Division again.
Miguel Cabrera has 408 HRs and counting, and it's going to be great in a few years when Miggy hits HR #500.
Let's just remember that Marlins fans get to rejoice along with us Tigers fans, after all, he hit 138 HRs as a member of the Fish.
One last thing...we, as Tigers fans, are blessed to have the players who call Detroit home...Cabrera, Verlander, J.D. and Victor Martinez, Castellanos, and new players like Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Aviles, Francisco Rodriguez, and a young man named Cameron Maybin, who returnd to the Motor City 9 years after he was traded to the then Florida Marlins for a slugging 3rd Baseman named Miguel Cabrera.
From the 19th Century Detroit Wolverines, to Charlie Bennett, to the Georgia Peach and Bobby Veach, to Must See JV and Miggy, we should celebrate every single day as fans of our great baseball team.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!