Al Kaline was recently at a Mahoning Valley Scrappers game to watch his grandson, Colin Kaline, in action. Colin is in the Tigers organization, playing for the Connecticut Tigers, the short-season A affiliate for Detroit.
Al Kaline is in Cooperstown, never played a day of minor league baseball in his life, and has some weird coincidences with Derek Jeter. Kaline played his entire 22-year career with the Detroit Tigers. “Mr. Tiger” is still working for the organization as a front office figure.
Derek Jeter picked up his 3,000th hit recently to join a crowd of less than 30 players on a very elite list. Al Kaline was the 12th player in Major League Baseball history to accomplish that fete. Here is where it gets weird… Kaline picked up his 3,000th hit in Baltimore on September 24, 1974. Derek Jeter was born in Baltimore in 1974. Kaline finished with 3,007 career hits. As of this writing, Derek Jeter has 3,007 hits. Sometimes timing is everything.
Paneech: What is Al Kaline doing in his spare time these days?
Al Kaline: I’m still working for the Tigers. I am an Assistant to the President and go to the games. I travel a little bit to Erie and Toledo and, of course, Lakeland. I have a home down there in Florida. Basically, I do whatever the president wants me to do. The owner is a good friend of mine. I had been broadcasting the games for about 20 years and when the new owners came in, they asked me to go into the front office and give my opinions. I told him that they may not like my opinions, but I assured them that I would give them my opinion nonetheless.
Paneech: Your grandson, Colin Kaline (above), is in the organization now. Is it weird coming to smaller venues to watch him?
Kaline: Actually, this is all new to me because I never played minor-league baseball. I hadn’t had a chance to see my grandson play much. He is like most guys in this league, they have a lot to learn and a lot of adjusting to do. Some will do it, some won’t. He is under a lot of pressure because of his name, but he handles it well, he is a great kid and was a great student. Whatever he does, he is going to be successful. It may not be baseball, but he is going to do well.
Paneech: I would think he will receive some support because of his name in the Detroit organization.
Kaline: He wants to play baseball. I tell all of these kids that they are blessed. How many billions of kids have wanted to sign professionally and never did. These kids are signed and have that chance to go somewhere with it. How far they go? Nobody knows. But, they should really see it as a tremendous honor that they were signed professionally.
Colin finished the game 2-4 with a pair of doubles. Afterwards he commented on his last name. ”I don’t feel the pressure so much. I know people are going to be more critical, but I am just having fun, learning and playing the game. It’s been fun so far. My grandfather rarely pulls me to the side to give me pointers, he lets me do my own thing and knows I am having fun.”