That is not a nickname that is just handed out and it is certainly not a nickname that is taken lightly.
When somebody mentioned, “Mr. Tiger,” everybody knew they were referring to Detroit Tigers icon and legend Al Kaline.
On Monday afternoon, news broke that Kaline had passed away and since then, everybody who ever had an encounter with the Tigers Hall of Famer did not hesitate to share a story or two.
One of those people is former Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who had dinner with Kaline about a month ago. In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Leyland said it was one of the best nights of his life but that looking back, “it felt like he (Kaline) was saying goodbye.”
From Detroit Free Press:
“It was one of the greatest nights of my life,” Leyland said, “the kind of night you don’t want to end.”
When they got back to the hotel and said goodbye in the lobby, Kaline leaned in and gave his longtime friend a hug.
“And he said, ‘Thanks for being my friend all these years,’ ” Leyland said. “It felt like he was saying goodbye. And you know how emotional I get. It was a weird feeling. I was flattered.”
He wasn’t shocked by news of Kaline’s death. He could see something wasn’t quite right in Lakeland. Still, hearing the news was difficult.
“This is a tough one,” Leyland said. “Everyone called him Mr. Tiger. I called him Mr. Gentleman.”