Trammell’s dream comes true with visit to Hall

Part of the HOFVISITS series
Written by: Bill Francis

Alan Trammell, humbled by his Cooperstown surroundings and modest in his own abilities to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the greats of the game, attempted to put his unique circumstances in perspective on Thursday.

“I couldn’t have dreamt it any better,” said Trammell, speaking in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Plaque Gallery during his first trip to the sport’s shrine since his election was announced on Dec. 10. “I think I’m dreaming, to be honest with you. It’s been three months now since I got the phone call from Jane Clark (Hall of Fame chairman). It sounds good – the Hall of Fame and Alan Trammell. My god, who wouldn’t like that?

“If I graded myself as a player, I did a lot of things. Maybe nothing great but a lot of things well.”

Trammell was in Cooperstown, along with his wife Barbara, for his Orientation Visit on March 15 in advance of his induction.

The Class of 2018 will also include Baseball Writers' Association of America electees Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero – and Trammell’s fellow Modern Baseball Era Committee electee Jack Morris. The six new Hall of Famers will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, July 29, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.

During his Orientation Visit to the Hall of Fame on March 15, Class of 2018 member Alan Trammell holds a baseball used in 1995 when he and Lou Whitaker set an American League record for most games as teammates. In the background are jerseys worn by Whitaker (in 1984) and Trammell (in 1983) which are a part of the Museum's collection. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

A beloved symbol of Motor City baseball for two decades, Trammell was a consistent all-around producer in the field as a shortstop and the batter’s box for the Tigers from 1977 to ’96. A six-time All-Star, he earned four Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards at short. In 1984, his two home runs and .450 batting average led him to being named World Series MVP in Detroit’s five-game triumph over the Padres.

Batting cleanup in 1987, Trammell finished second in AL MVP voting after hitting .343 with 28 homers and 105 RBI.

A seven-time .300 hitter with a .285 career batting average, his .977 fielding percentage ranks sixth among shortstops with at least 2,000 games played.There are 52 Hall of Famers who spent their entire career with one team, with 2018 electees Trammell and Jones the most recent additions to this list.

“You look at the back of my baseball card and it says one team. That’s pretty cool,” Trammell said. “When it got to a certain point into my career, then it started becoming, ‘You know what? It would be pretty special if I could wear this uniform my whole career.’ And it did work out that way.”

After Trammell – dressed in black pants, black sneakers and a gray shirt – and his wife received a two-hour tour of the Hall from Museum Vice President of Exhibitions and Collections Erik Strohl.

“It’s overwhelming, to be honest with you,” Trammell, who turned 60 three weeks ago, told the press after autographing the spot where his plaque will reside come this summer. “As somebody who has been a sports junkie my whole life, baseball first and foremost, and to now just to say that you’re part of that group, it’s hard to comprehend.

“Talking to other inductees, it might not sink in until after the ceremony on July 29. Each day there are moments where it crosses my mind and I smile to myself and I say, ‘Tram, you are now on the Dream Team.’ For individual accomplishment it doesn’t get any better than that.

“I’m sure like 99.9 percent of the inductees will say, it wasn’t my goal when I was a young boy. First of all you wanted to play professional baseball, you wanted to make it to the major leagues, and then as you get established you want to do well and you want to win a championship. Those things I was able to do. But really as far as the Hall of Fame, that really wasn’t something that I thought about.”

During the Hall of Fame tour, a four-story trip through baseball’s long history, an inquisitive Trammell marveled at the evolution of baseball gloves, bats, gloves and mitts, often comparing them to the ones he used during his playing career, as well as checking out familiar touchstones from his successful past.

Born and raised in the San Diego area, Trammell also had an affinity for an exhibit on local hero Ted Williams and a costume from the San Diego Chicken.

“He was pretty special,” said Trammell of Williams. “A hometown guy.”

From his own career, Trammell was able to watch a video of Tigers teammate Kirk Gibson slug an important homer against the Padres in the 1984 World Series, check out military helmet from Disco Demolition Night, a game his Tigers played against the White Sox in 1979, and look at a second base he used with longtime double-play partner Lou Whitaker from their final home game in 1995.

“We hit if off right from the start. It’s a great story. What a teammate,” Trammell said about his 19-year diamond partnership with Whitaker. “I’m hoping that maybe someday that he can be here as well. Regardless whether it happens or not, the story of Lou and Tram, Tram and Lou, that’s never going to be forgotten. Especially for Tigers fans.”

Asked about the progress of his induction speech, Trammell first laughed then said: “I have the gist of what I want to say and I have to fine tune it. I’m getting close and I still have a few months to go, but I’ll be ready.”

As for his Hall of Fame plaque, Trammell’s hope is that it might refer to him as “a model of consistency.”


Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the HOFVISITS series