8 Most Beloved Figures in Detroit Sports History

Throughout the history of Detroit sports, there have been plenty of figures who have become loved by the fans.

Here is a list of the top 8 most beloved figures in Detroit sports history.

Nicklas Lidstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League, all of them with the Detroit Red Wings. He was a great defender and helped lead the Red Wings to four Stanley Cups.

Lidstrom was the captain of the Red Wings for his final six seasons in the league and was known as a great leader. During his career, Lidstrom was named to the NHL All-Star team 12 times and won the Norris Trophy (Best NHL Defender) seven times.

There is no question Lidstrom will always be considered one of the most beloved figures in Detroit sports history.

It's not a surprise Lidstrom has the nickname, “Mr. Perfect.”

Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker (Tie)


Growing up I was a huge fan of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. In fact, it was almost impossible to mention one without mentioning the other, so I am not about to start doing it now.

“Sweet Lou” and “Tram,” as fans of Detroit like to call them, came up to the Detroit Tigers together in 1977. From that point on they became leaders of the team and in their spare time, they turned double plays. Lots of double plays, more than 1,300 of them!

Trammell and Whitaker are one of the greatest double-play combinations in the history of Major League Baseball and will always be loved in Detroit.

Isiah Thomas


Isiah Thomas will go down as one of the most determined players ever to play the sport of basketball. As one of the leaders of the team, Thomas had a refuse-to-lose attitude that eventually led the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back NBA Championships.

In 1996, Thomas was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He was a 12-time NBA All-Star and is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Isiah Thomas will always be looked at as one of the best pure leaders in sports history.

Al Kaline


Al Kaline made his debut for the Detroit Tigers in 1953 when he was only 18 years old. He went on to play in a total of 22 seasons in Detroit and eventually was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Kaline was a 15-time All-Star and won a World Series with the Tigers in 1968. He was a solid all-around player as he had a career batting average of .297 while hitting 399 home runs and accumulating 10 gold gloves.

Al Kaline will always be known as “Mr. Tiger.”

Barry Sanders


Barry Sanders, in my opinion, is the greatest running back ever to play the game of football. As a member of the Detroit Lions, Sanders made his opponents look downright silly on a regular basis. His style of running is something that had never been seen before and will never be replicated again.

Though Sanders never led the Lions to a Super Bowl, he will go down as one of the most beloved figures in Detroit sports history. Had he not left the Lions as he did, Barry could have made a run at the top of this list.

 Steve Yzerman


In 22 years with the Detroit Red Wings, Steve Yzerman won three Stanley Cups and multiple other individual awards. At 21-years-old, Yzerman was named captain of the Red Wings and he served in that position for the next two decades.

Yzerman's leadership abilities were unmatched in the league and he will always be known as one of the great leaders in the history of hockey.

In Detroit, Yzerman will always be known as “The Captain.”

Gordie Howe


Gordie Howe led the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cup championships in his astounding 24 years with the team. Howe was a great all-around player and a leader who was not afraid to show his toughness. He always was and always will be a pillar in Detroit sports history.

Recently, Howe has been suffering from health issues, including having a major stroke in October of 2014. Since the stroke, Howe has fought to recover and has made great progress. Gordie Howe is an inspiration to us all and will go down as one of the most beloved figures in Detroit sports history.

Gordie Howe passed away on June 10th, 2016. R.I.P. Mr. Howe, you will always be remembered as a class act and a true legend.

Ernie Harwell


The late Ernie Harwell was the voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years. There was nothing better than sitting on the deck with a pop and listening to the soothing voice of Ernie. When Harwell passed away in May of 2010, over 10,000 fans came to Comerica Park to pay tribute as his body lay in repose.

Ernie Harwell was not an athlete, but he was Detroit. He was the voice of the people and the voice of the Tigers.

We miss you, Ernie.