In 1977 at Montgomery, Alan Trammell and second baseman Lou Whitaker were teamed together for the first time. Both infielders had a cup of coffee with Detroit in 1977. The two infielders made their debut in Fenway Park against Boston's Reggie Cleveland on September 9, 1977. Each man collected his first big-league hit. In 1978 manager Ralph Houk made the two youngsters his middle infield duo, and they responded by leading the AL in double plays. Whitaker won the Rookie of the Year award, and most experts agreed that he was farther along than Trammell.
The next few years saw Trammell studying and growing. He added muscle and weight to his scrawny frame - hitting .300 in 1980 as he made the All-Star team. While Whitaker honed his swing to take advantage of the short right field Tiger Stadium porch, Trammell concentrated on spraying the ball to all fields.
In 1983 the double play duo each batted .300 - Whitaker .320 and Trammell .319 as the Tigers improved to second place. By now Trammell had become one of baseball's best shortstops, challenging Robin Yount.
In 1984, Trammell's hot start (.403 in April) helped the Tigers to a record-setting 35-5 start. Trammell enjoyed 20 and 18-game hitting streaks as the Tigers walked away with the AL East crown.
Despite suffering a shoulder injury, Tram finished the 1984 season with a .314 batting average and his fourth Gold Glove award in five years. He hit .364 in the AL Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals and .450 with two homers and six RBI in the World Series victory over the San Diego Padres. His efforts earned him the World Series MVP award.
In 1986 Trammell joined Whitaker, Darrell Evans, and Darnell Coles to form an all-20 home run hitting infield. Unfortunately the team was unable to break into the post-season.
Trammell carried the 1987 Detroit Tigers team, which dramatically won the AL Eastern Division title by sweeping its last seven games. That year, Trammell recorded 205 hits and batted .343 with 28 homers, 105 RBI (a record for Tiger shortstops), and 21 stolen bases, and finished second to George Bell in MVP voting. It was one of the most debated MVP votes in history - Bell slumped down the stretch, costing his Blue Jays the division title, while Trammell practically willed the Bengals into first place. In the playoffs Trammell and the Tigers were upset by the Twins in five games.
Trammell followed his amazing '197 performance with another good year in 1988, batting .311 and earning his third Tiger of the Year honor. After an injury-marred 1989 campaign, Trammell returned to form in 1990, finishing fourth in the AL batting race (.304). In 1991 he collected his 2,000th major league hit and in 1993 he batted .329 with 60 RBI while starting at four different defensive positions. In 1995 Trammell and Whitaker played in their 1,918th game together - an AL record. Trammell retired after the 1996 season.
Trammell hit at least .300 in seven seasons, something only six shortstops had accomplished before him (and all of them are in the Hall of Fame). He was an All-Star shortstop six times, and the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 1983.
Trammell ranks among the top ten in Detroit Tigers history in games played (2,293), hits (2,365), runs (1,231), doubles (412), and stolen bases (236). In 20 major league seasons with the Tigers, Trammell batted .285 with 185 homers and 1,003 RBI.
He served as first base, outfield, and base-running coach for the Detroit Tigers from 1997 through 1999 before Tiger management bumbled their relationship with him. The front office failed to inform him that he would not be asked back for the 2000 season under new manager Phil Garner. Instead, Trammell was notified by reporters. Trammell was hurt by the slight and went to his hometown Padres to coach in 2000.
In 2002, Trammell made his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot, joining other first-time notables Ozzie Smith and Andre Dawson. Smith gained election while Trammell earned little support. The divide between the two seemed to be based largely on back flips and flashy defense. The following year, Trammell was hired to manage the Tigers, a team in serious need of a turn-around. In his first year at the helm, Trammell suffered through 119 losses, fielding a team of minor leaguers and has-beens.
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