For those of you who know me, relatives, friends, readers of this blog, you know my love of the Detroit Tigers, and my hero, Bill Freehan, the Tigers catcher for 15 years, 1961,63-76.
Bill Freehan was an 11-time All-Star catcher, and the first catcher to ever win 5 straight Gold Glove Awards, 1965-69.
Bill wore #19 when he first made the big club in 1963, but it was familiar #11 that he wore after his recall in 1965, until he retired, following the 1976 season.
The picture to the left is the famous block of the plate by Freehan during Game 5 of the 1968 World Series on St. Louis speedster Lou Brock.
That single play, on a throw on one hop from left fielder Willie Horton, and giving the Tigers new life, a life that would lead to a come from behind win in that pivotal game, a 5-3 Tigers win.
Bill Freehan is the greatest catcher that the Detroit Tigers ever had, and with yesterday's announcement that the Detroit Tigers would retire #11 in honor of...Sparky Anderson, I was very upset, upset that they were not including him in the plans to retire #11.
I love Sparky, he was the Tigers Manager for 17 years, and he turned around the Tigers from terrible teams of the late 1970s into a World Series winner in 1984.
I don't mean to take anything away from Sparky, he deserves recognition.
However, #11 belongs to Bill Freehan and I believe the Tigers must step up and include Freehan in the ceremony that will retire #11 forever, sometime this year at Comerica Park.
I am very passionate about this issue, and I will do whatever it takes so the Detroit Tigers honor Bill Freehan on the same day that #11 is retired later this coming season.
Bill Freehan hit .262 lifetime, had 200 home runs, had 1,591 hits, and was the leader on the field for the Tigers.
It was on defense that Freehan excelled, calling pitches for Denny McLain and his 31 win season in 1968, for Mickey Lolich's 25 wins in 1971, leading the American League in putouts six times, retired with a .993 fielding %, a big league record that stood for 26 years.
Freehan's 11 All-Star Game selections are the most by any player not in the Hall of Fame.
The Tigers need to honor Freehan, and it is my duty, my focus, my passion that that happens.
Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski announced at the clubs annual TIGERFEST today that the team will honor the late Sparky Anderson, who spent 17 years as the Tigers manager.
The Tigers will wear a commemorative patch starting in spring training.
The Tigers will also fly a flag in Sparky's honor @ Comerica Park, and will retire #11, which Sparky wore from 1979-1996.
Anderson took over the struggling Tigers in the middle of the 1979 season, replacing Les Moss, and immediately claimed the Tigers would be World Series Champions within 5 years.
True to his word, the Tigers were champions, starting 1984 on an amazing 35-5 run through the American League in route to the clubs 4th World Series Championship.
Anderson was the 1st manager in MLB History to win the World Series in both leagues, leading the Cincinnati Reds to back to back wins in 1975-76 before coming to Detroit, and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sparky Anderson died on November 4th, 2010, at the age of 76.
The annual event is the kickoff of the 2011 season for the Mudhens and the parent club Tigers.
Toledo is the AAA affiliate of Detroit, and the Tigers will have Manager Jim Leyland, coaches Lloyd McClendon and Gene Lamont, pitcher Rick Porcello, catcher Alex Avila, and outfielders Don Kelly and Casper Wells.(subject to change)
The prize possession in the Tigers system is Jacob Turner, who, at age 19, is the Tigers prized future on the mound, and a player who was very sought after in the off season by several big league clubs in trade talk.
The Tigers turned away anyone wanting Turner in any trade, and look at the young man they drafted with the 9th pick in the 2009 MLB Draft.
Starting with the 2011 big league baseball season I am proud to announce that I will be awarding the top catcher in both the American and National Leagues with the 1st Annual Bill Freehan Award, given to the best catchers in baseball.
Bill Freehan was a 11 time All-Star catcher for the Detroit Tigers from 1963-1976, and was the first catcher to win five consecutive Gold Glove Awards as the best defensive catcher in the American League, in 1965-66-67-68-69.
When Freehan retired following the 1976 season, his .993 lifetime fielding percentage was the highest in baseball history.
Freehan was runner up for the MVP Award in 1969, finishing behind teammate Denny McLain, who went 31-6. Each week we will ask our readers to nominate a catcher from each league who they feel had the week behind the plate, and @ the plate.
We will use those votes, along with my pick, to determine who the A.L. and N.L. catchers of the week will be.
We will also name a catcher of the month, and name the catchers we believe should start in the All-Star Game, all leading up to our awarding of the 1st Annual Bill Freehan Award @ the end of the 2011 big league baseball season.
For 14 years Bert Blyleven, the winner of 287 big league games, 3,701 strikeouts, and owner of one of the nastiest curve balls in baseball, waited for the call that he had been elected into the Baseball Hall of fame, and for 13 years that never came.
Today, year 14, that call came, and now Blyleven is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Joining Blyleven is Roberto Alomar, the 10 time Gold Glove All-Star shortstop for the San Diego Padres and Toronto Blue Jays.
Blyleven, who finished just 5 votes short last year, received 79.7% of the votes, and Alomar, who came within 8 votes in 2010, finished with a whopping 90% of the total vote.
Blyleven and Alomar will be joined by former Blue Jays and Phillies executive Pat Gillick, who was voted in by the post expansion Veteran's Committee in December of 2010.
Last month I was privileged to be asked to recommend players who I believed belong in the Hall of Fame as a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.
I voted for both Blyleven and Alomar, and both were recommended by the BBA to the BBWAA for induction.
Here's to all the voters who finally got it right and voted in Blyleven and Alomar.
I hope next year they do the right thing and put both Barry Larkin and Jack Morris in as well, and I sincerely hope the Veteran's Committee rights another wrong and inducts the late Cubs 3rd baseman Ron Santo.
Topics will include the off season for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Hall of Fame voting by the members of the BBA, and tomorrows Hall of Fame announcement.
The Baseball Bloggers Alliance is a collection of baseball bloggers who cover baseball from nearly every aspect of the game, including blogs on current big league teams, general baseball coverage, and the history of the game.