Tough Tiger

Bobby Higginson debuts on BBWAA ballot

December 18, 2010
Bobby Higginson is making his debut on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot.

View a photo gallery of the 2011 BBWAA ballot

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Bobby Higginson fought for 11 seasons to be the best player he could be.

As a native of the tough streets of Philadelphia and the grandson of a heavyweight boxer, Higginson knew no other way.

Higginson, who played each of his 11 years with the Detroit Tigers, is one of 33 players on the 2011 Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for the Class of 2011 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Higginson is making his debut on the BBWAA ballot.

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. 5. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA votes cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2011. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 24 in Cooperstown.

Born Aug. 18, 1970, Higginson was raised in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Frankford. He learned how to defend himself from his grandfather, Gus Dorazio, a heavyweight boxer who faced world champion Joe Louis in 1941.

Dorazio was knocked out in the second round, but his hard-knuckle lessons hit home for Higginson.

"He's a throwback," Hall of Famer Al Kaline said of Higginson. "Bobby is the kind of player who could have easily been on those teams that I played on. He hates to lose."

Drafted in the 12th round in 1992 out of Temple University, Higginson debuted with the Tigers in 1995, hitting .224 in 131 games. He did, however, remember his grandfather's lessons about defense: Higginson led all American League outfielders with 13 assists as a rookie.

The next season, Higginson hit .320 – a 96-point increase.

Higginson hit .299 with 27 home runs and 101 RBI in 1997, then turned in his best all-round season in 2000 with 30 homers, 102 RBI, a .300 average and 104 runs scored – and led all AL left fielders in putouts with 305.

Injuries, however, began to take their toll. By 2005, Higginson was only able to appear in 10 games due to an elbow problem. He retired after that season with 1,336 hits, 270 doubles, 187 home runs and a .272 average.

"He plays the game right," said former Tigers star Kirk Gibson. "He plays it the way I tried to go about it."

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum