Tigers to retire Lou Whitaker’s number Saturday

Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker in a game at Tiger Stadium, 1981. Photo courtesy Aaron Caldwell via Wikipedia.

One of Detroit’s most-beloved athletes will finally get his due this weekend.

Former Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker, who played his entire 19-season career with the Tigers, will have his #1 retired by the team on Saturday, in a pregame ceremony at Comerica Park before the team takes on the Tampa Bay Rays.

The number retirement was originally scheduled for August 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be postponed.

“Tigers fans have eagerly waited two years to celebrate this momentous occasion for Lou Whitaker, and we’re thrilled that day is here,” said Tigers Owner, Chairman, and CEO Christopher Ilitch. “‘Sweet Lou’ will join a distinguished club of legends, and his name will forever be etched in Tigers history as one of the best to ever wear the Olde English ‘D’. On behalf of the entire Detroit Tigers organization, we congratulate Lou on this well-deserved honour, and we look forward to celebrating with him, his family and Tigers fans.”

Whitaker was a fan favourite who would usually be greeted before a plate appearance with a cry of “Loooouuu!” from fans at Tiger Stadium. He was best known for his double-play tandem with Hall-of-Fame shortstop Alan Trammell, which lasted a Major League Baseball-record 19 seasons. Whitaker personally was part of 1,527 double plays, a Tigers record.

His total of 2,390 games played is the third-largest in Tigers history, after Al Kaline and Ty Cobb. Whitaker also ranked sixth in the franchise in hits with 2,369, and hit a career 244 home runs.

The 65-year-old Whitaker was born in Brooklyn, New York but was raised in Virginia. He was set to play college ball at Ferrum College, but he was drafted by the Tigers in the fifth round of the 1975 MLB Draft, so he passed on college to play professional baseball. He was voted the American League Rookie of the Year in 1978.

Whitaker, a five-time All-Star, was considered for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame two years ago but fell short of the 75 per cent of the vote needed from the Hall’s Modern Baseball Era Committee.