Terrific Tiger

Trammell makes 12th appearance on BBWAA ballot

December 20, 2012
2013 BBWAA Hall of Fame Candidate Alan Trammell (NBHOF Library)

For 20 seasons, Alan Trammell was the face of the Detroit Tigers.

And during those 20 years, Trammell proved to be one of the best all-around shortstops in baseball.

Trammell spent his entire 20-year big league career with the Tigers and is one of 37 players on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the Class of 2013 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Trammell returns to the BBWAA ballot for the 12th year after receiving a career-best 36.8 percent of the vote in 2012, a jump of 12.5 percent from the previous year. After this election, Trammell will be eligible for the BBWAA ballot three more times if he continues to receive at least five percent of the vote and does not get elected.

“It’s the highest honor for any player,” said Trammell of possibly being elected to the Hall of Fame. “I’d be overwhelmed.”

BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 9. Any candidate who receives votes on at least 75 percent of all BBWAA ballots cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 28 in Cooperstown.

Born on Feb. 21, 1958, in Garden Grove, Calif., Trammell was drafted by the Tigers in the second round of the 1976 amateur draft. He was quickly paired in the minor leagues with promising second baseman Lou Whitaker in Montgomery of the Southern League. The duo made their major league debut on Sept. 9, 1977.

In 1978, the pair became starters and they lead the American League in double plays. Trammell finished forth in Rookie of the Year voting, with Whitaker winning the award. By the time their careers were over, Trammell and Whitaker played in 1,918 games together – the most by any double-play combination in history.

In 1980, Trammell earned his first All-Star selection, batted .300 for the first time and won his first of four Gold Gloves. In 1983, Trammell hit .319 with 14 homers, 66 RBI and 30 stolen bases and was awarded the Comeback Player of the Year in the American League following two straight years where he hit .258.

“He’s class, he’s the kind of guy you never had to tell to run a ball out,” said former big league manager Phil Garner.

In 1984, Trammell battled shoulder tendinitis to finish fifth in the AL batting race (.314) and eighth in on-base percentage (.382). The Tigers went 104-58 to win the AL pennant and the World Series. Going 9-for-20 with two homers and six RBI, Trammell was named World Series MVP.

“We couldn’t win without Alan,” said Tigers manager Sparky Anderson. “Alan Trammell is a star.”

Anderson asked Trammell to move from the two hole to cleanup in 1987, and Trammell responded with his best season. He became the first Tiger to have 200 hits and 100 RBI in a season since 1955 and finished in the league top 10 in batting average (.343), RBI (105), hits (205), runs (109), total bases (329), on-base percentage (.402) and  slugging percentage (.551).

Trammell finished second in MVP voting that year to Toronto’s George Bell.

“I am just proud that I’m a Tiger – and always will be,” said Trammell.

Trammell retired in 1996, with six All-Star Game selections, three Silver Slugger Awards and four Gold Glove Awards. He batted over .300 seven times in his career, finishing with a .285 batting average, 185 home runs, 1,003 RBI, 412 doubles and 2,365 hits. Three times he finished in the top 10 in MVP voting.

Following his playing career, Trammell managed the Tigers from 2003-2005.

“One thing he’s got going for him… He’s a Hall of Fame person,” said former Tigers general manager Randy Smith.

Samantha Carr is a freelance writer from Rochester, N.Y.