When news broke that Detroit Tigers legend Al Kaline passed away on Monday, many of us had the air knocked out of us. Sure, Kaline was 85 and lived a very full life, but for those of us who had the opportunity to talk to him, it felt like a part of us died.
Following the news of Kaline’s death, actor and Detroit sports super fan Jeff Daniels tweeted a line that summed up Al Kaline for him.
He was the only fielder who could make the ball come to him. Goodbye, #6. #AlKaline
— Jeff Daniels (@Jeff_Daniels) April 6, 2020
Daniels then wrote a tribute to Kaline, which was published by The Detroit Free Press.
Al Kaline was the only player I ever saw who could make the ball come to him.
With the runner rounding second, he’d sprint into the right field corner and in one graceful motion the ball would find his glove, and when he turned his back all you could see was the 6, and when he threw the ball it would leave his hand like an air rocket, dead straight, screaming over the infield all the way in to the third base bag. Don Wert never had to move his glove. The runner, of course, would be out by a mile.
That’s how you remember childhood heroes.
Al Kaline was mine.
I still have the small wooden bat from 1964 Tiger Bat Day with his name on it.
I always will.
Well said, Jeff.