Lou Whitaker feels love from Detroit Tigers, fans at No. 1 ceremony

When Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch has a chance to teach a baseball history lesson, he takes it.

And so, Friday afternoon, he sat in the clubhouse with his pitchers — Tyler Alexander, Jason Foley, Tarik Skubal and Will Vest — talking about the weekend’s upcoming ceremony.

He realized they knew Lou Whitaker, but didn’t know Lou Whitaker.

So he gave them an assignment: Grab your phones, he instructed, pull up Alan Trammell on one and Whitaker on the other. 

“The reason I did it is because we hold Alan Trammell in such reverence because he’s active (in the organization), he’s here with us, he instructs us, I mean there’s always a smile on our face when he comes around,” Hinch said. “Lou has not been around, but he was just Alan Trammell at a different position.

“I mean if you look at his offensive profile, the five-time All-Star, the Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year (in 1978) — just to open the eyes of our players on what Lou meant to this franchise.”

Former Detroit Tigers great Lou Whitaker was introduced during a ceremony retiring his number 1 Jersey before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday, August 6, 2022 at Comerica Park.

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The thousands of fans who lined the streets prior to Comerica Park’s gates opening Saturday needed no such history lesson.

Many have personal memories of Whitaker’s 19 seasons wearing the Old English “D.” The sellout crowd of 40,101 (the second-largest crowd of the season) added another memory Saturday, prior to the Tigers’ game against the Tampa Bay Rays — the black tarp on the wall above the bullpen in left-center coming down to reveal Whitaker’s name and No. 1 permanently inscribed at Comerica Park.

No. 1 will never be worn by a Tiger again.

Former Tigers great Lou Whitaker had his No. 1 Jersey retired before the game against the Rays on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, at Comerica Park.

“This will be one of the greatest moments in my life,” Whitaker said on the stage erected in the Comerica infied. “Just knowing that my number will be retired, and I have a chance to see my name on the wall with those legends from Tigers history.”

It was at times hard to hear master of ceremonies Dan Dickerson, Trammell or any of the other teammates of Whitaker who shared their sentiments via a video shown on the board Saturday evening as more than 30,000 fans serenaded the field with  “Looooouuuuuuuu.”

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