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For more than a half century, as a superstar ballplayer, television broadcaster, and front office executive, Al Kaline has personified the Detroit Tigers like no one else. In the Tigers' clubhouse of today, stars such as Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander—neither of whom were even born when he played in the major leagues—respectfully address him as "Mr. Kaline." Tigers fa For more than a half century, as a superstar ballplayer, television broadcaster, and front office executive, Al Kaline has personified the Detroit Tigers like no one else. In the Tigers' clubhouse of today, stars such as Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander—neither of whom were even born when he played in the major leagues—respectfully address him as "Mr. Kaline." Tigers fans around the country of every generation refer to him simply as "Mr. Tiger." Now, for the first time, the life and career of this remarkable individual are presented in this compelling new biography. Learn how the skinny, shy youngster with a deformed foot and an undying love for the game of baseball went straight from high school and the sandlots of Baltimore to the big leagues where, at the age of 20, he became the youngest batting champion in baseball history. That achievement marked the start of a first-ballot Hall of Fame career that would carry him to 3,000 hits and a plaque on the hallowed wall at Cooperstown.


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For more than a half century, as a superstar ballplayer, television broadcaster, and front office executive, Al Kaline has personified the Detroit Tigers like no one else. In the Tigers' clubhouse of today, stars such as Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander—neither of whom were even born when he played in the major leagues—respectfully address him as "Mr. Kaline." Tigers fa For more than a half century, as a superstar ballplayer, television broadcaster, and front office executive, Al Kaline has personified the Detroit Tigers like no one else. In the Tigers' clubhouse of today, stars such as Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander—neither of whom were even born when he played in the major leagues—respectfully address him as "Mr. Kaline." Tigers fans around the country of every generation refer to him simply as "Mr. Tiger." Now, for the first time, the life and career of this remarkable individual are presented in this compelling new biography. Learn how the skinny, shy youngster with a deformed foot and an undying love for the game of baseball went straight from high school and the sandlots of Baltimore to the big leagues where, at the age of 20, he became the youngest batting champion in baseball history. That achievement marked the start of a first-ballot Hall of Fame career that would carry him to 3,000 hits and a plaque on the hallowed wall at Cooperstown.

30 review for Al Kaline: The Biography of a Tigers Icon

  1. 4 out of 5

    J.

    I grew up in the 1960s and followed the Detroit Tigers and the second half of Al Kaline's career. I attended, with my dad, the game against the New York Yankees in 1968 during which, with Detroit comfortably ahead, Denny McLain served up a blooper for Mantle to hit out of the yard. I recall watching one of the World Series games that year at my grade school. Kaline was my boyhood idol and I wanted to play major league baseball, too. For me, this biography was a romp through the past. There was l I grew up in the 1960s and followed the Detroit Tigers and the second half of Al Kaline's career. I attended, with my dad, the game against the New York Yankees in 1968 during which, with Detroit comfortably ahead, Denny McLain served up a blooper for Mantle to hit out of the yard. I recall watching one of the World Series games that year at my grade school. Kaline was my boyhood idol and I wanted to play major league baseball, too. For me, this biography was a romp through the past. There was little presented, other than Kaline's youth prior to becoming a Tiger and how he became a Tiger, that I didn't already know. But that didn't prevent me from enjoying the read from cover to cover. If you're looking for an exposé in which Kaline shovels dirt on former teammates or confesses to an off-the-field life of hard drinking and womanizing, you won't find it. As great a ballplayer as Kaline was--and he was the greatest I ever saw play--he's an even better human being: humble, a gentleman, still married to his childhood sweetheart, and still in the Tigers organization, a great ambassador for the game. In Al Kaline: The Biography of a Tigers Icon, Kaline is perhaps hardest on himself--the injuries that plagued his career, that his career numbers could've been better had he played harder during the lean years when the Tigers were struggling to finish at .500. He never blames the organization for not surrounding him with better talent; he merely states his heart wasn't in it when the team was out of the hunt by the All Star break. That's not to say he dogged it; but he yearned for the thrill of being in a pennant race in September, when the games meant something. Kaline played in the days before divisions and playoffs, when the team with the best record in the American League played the team with the best record in the National League for all the marbles--a time when baseball was pure. Kaline played in the era before big contracts (he once turned down $100K for playing a kid's game, which angered many of his teammates). He doesn't begrudge the millions today's players make; but he's outspoken against those player who take it for granted, who he thinks demean the game. Some might say Kaline doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame--he was the tenth player ever to be inducted in his first appearance on the ballot. After all, he played for a small market team during a time when Mantle and Mays were receiving all the accolades as outfielders. Kaline might not have been born with great athleticism, but he was born to play the game of baseball. He may have hit only .297 lifetime and hit only 399 homeruns; but he won the batting title in only his second year as a major leaguer at an age younger than Ty Cobb. He won 10 Gold Gloves and was voted into the All Star game 18 times over a 22-year career. He also won the Roberto Clemente award, the Hutch award and the Lou Gehrig Memorial award. He had a cannon for an arm and got a better break on balls hit his way than anyone I've ever seen play the game. He roamed right field like a demon--not the fleetest of foot, yet he seemed to glide on rails to get to balls other outfielders, faster, would charge after, elbows flailing and caps flying off, only to misplay or play on one hop. His workmanlike ethic made him a fan favorite, and he never brought shame to himself, his family, or the game of baseball, the way Cobb and Mantle and many others have. In short, I can't heap enough superlatives on this gentleman of the game, a gentleman who, in my own youth, I wanted to emulate on the field. My only criticism of the book is of an editorial nature: there seemed to be several needless repetitions of events and several annoying typos. A fine read and recommended--you don't have to be "always a Tiger" to enjoy it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Barry

    A decent biography of a great ballplayer. Not outstanding, but a Tiger fan will enjoy.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tom Gase

    A good book on one of the best Detroit Tigers of all time, Al Kaline. Kaline played rightfield and centerfield for Detroit from about 1953 to 1974. In this book, Jim Hawkins does a good job of chronicling Kaline's career, spending a good deal of time on his rookie year, his batting title and 1968-the year the Tigers won the World Series. Hawkins doesn't get into too much detail about games and how Detroit would win or lose, so the book goes pretty quick and never lulls. I kind of wish there was A good book on one of the best Detroit Tigers of all time, Al Kaline. Kaline played rightfield and centerfield for Detroit from about 1953 to 1974. In this book, Jim Hawkins does a good job of chronicling Kaline's career, spending a good deal of time on his rookie year, his batting title and 1968-the year the Tigers won the World Series. Hawkins doesn't get into too much detail about games and how Detroit would win or lose, so the book goes pretty quick and never lulls. I kind of wish there was a little more detail in some parts, but overall a well written and well researched book. Any fan of the Tigers or Kaline should read this. I have a lot of more respect now as I didn't realize Kaline had played his whole career for the Tigers. You don't see that as much anymore. Update: Read again in 2020 just after Kaline passed. Still a great read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Montano

    Al Kaline or Mr. Tiger as he is appropriately called. He played all his 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers. He was just a shy, skinny kid from Baltimore, MD when he was drafted by the Tigers out of high school. He gave his all to every game, even though he was often injured. He was the first Tigers player to have his jersey (6) retired. He entered the Hall of Fame on the first year he was eligible. His lifetime batting average of .297, 3,007 hits, 399 Home Runs and 1,583 RBI's is remarkable and Al Kaline or Mr. Tiger as he is appropriately called. He played all his 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers. He was just a shy, skinny kid from Baltimore, MD when he was drafted by the Tigers out of high school. He gave his all to every game, even though he was often injured. He was the first Tigers player to have his jersey (6) retired. He entered the Hall of Fame on the first year he was eligible. His lifetime batting average of .297, 3,007 hits, 399 Home Runs and 1,583 RBI's is remarkable and yet, he is often overlooked because he didn't want the glory. He wanted to do his best every game and he did.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Author Jim Hawkins who has covered the Detroit sports beat for decades says that the Al Kaline book for him was a difficult write. Kaline is one of those genuine heroes who is as he appears. He could have come from one of those Chip Hilton sports books I read as a kid. Baseball was everything to Kaline. He came from a working class family in Baltimore and maybe had the Orioles been in Baltimore he might have signed with them. A lot of teams wanted him, but the Detroit Tigers made the best offer sweet Author Jim Hawkins who has covered the Detroit sports beat for decades says that the Al Kaline book for him was a difficult write. Kaline is one of those genuine heroes who is as he appears. He could have come from one of those Chip Hilton sports books I read as a kid. Baseball was everything to Kaline. He came from a working class family in Baltimore and maybe had the Orioles been in Baltimore he might have signed with them. A lot of teams wanted him, but the Detroit Tigers made the best offer sweetened with a bonus. Which in those days carried a price. Kaline went from high school right on the Tiger bench without spending a day in the minor leagues, one of a very few who did that, only Mel Ott is the other that comes to mind. Kaline could after two years have gone to the minors for seasoning. But he stayed with them and rewarded their faith with the 1955 American League batting championship. He stayed with the Tigers until 1974 and manage to collect 3007 hits and a .297 lifetime batting average. Those 3007 hits topped what Mickey Mantle accumulated in his career and he was the contemporary that Kaline was most often compared with. Mickey finished one point ahead in lifetime average and in power 536 to 399 lifetime homers gives advantage Mantle. Kaline was probably Mantle's superior defensively, he was more like Joe DiMaggio in the outfield making it look easy as he was always where the ball seemed to be. As we know Mantle was quite the party animal. Kaline on the other hands never made the news in that way. Married to the same woman for over 50 years, two sons, a few grandkids he never made any headlines other than the sports page. One of the reasons Hawkins says this was a difficult story, nothing juicy. Still and all a genuine sports hero.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bearcatgary

    Al Kaline was my childhood hero. I was sad to hear of his passing a few weeks ago so I decided it was time to read this book from my collection. The only complaint I have about the book is there are parts that are repetitive. Not as well-written as biographies of Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and others, the book still enlightens you to the greatness of this Hall of Fame player.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Peter Ill

    A well written biography This complete biography is a great tribute to Al Kaline and is well-written. It reads well and is a wonderful addition to the library of any baseball fan.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Bell

    3000 hits, world champion (in the last pure, pre-playoff season), first ballot hall of famer, Mr. Tiger.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bart Williams

    Growing up in Grand Blanc Michigan born in mid 1990's I did not know a lot about Al Kaline. I felt obligated as a tiger's fan to pick up his biography and do my homework on the history of "Kaline's Korner" in right field of Comerica Park. I do not regret picking up this book from my school library and I most definitely feel more informed on the tiger's great Al Kaline, and many other players who played in the tiger's long history. I thought it was especially interesting that he was so successful Growing up in Grand Blanc Michigan born in mid 1990's I did not know a lot about Al Kaline. I felt obligated as a tiger's fan to pick up his biography and do my homework on the history of "Kaline's Korner" in right field of Comerica Park. I do not regret picking up this book from my school library and I most definitely feel more informed on the tiger's great Al Kaline, and many other players who played in the tiger's long history. I thought it was especially interesting that he was so successful despite a birth deformed foot, which hindered his ability to run bases and track down fly balls. He did it with the best of them though and it shows how far your mind can take you regardless of setbacks. I also learned a lot about his generation and how it was for him growing up which was especially interesting to me because he was born the same year my grandpa was. I learned a lot about that time period. I look back and wish I would have asked my grandpa a lot more questions about what it was like when he was growing up, and some of my questions were answered in the reading of this biography. The book taught me so much about Al Kaline and his career and also helped me understand how others handled their situations to getting into professional sports, which is also something I am interested in. This book was especially good for me because it taught me a lot with the literal meaning of the black and white pages, but it also helped me read between the lines and make connections to my real life.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steven Voorhees

    When I lived in the midwest in the mid-1990s, I caught a Detroit Tigers game at its old palace at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. So much baseball history lay within its walls. Some of that history -- indeed magic -- was made by No. 6, Al Kaline. I first heard his name while watching a MLB game of the week as a kid. With my interest in the Tigers, I found this biography of probably the greatest living Tiger of all. Al Kaline didn't need to hit a home run every time he came to bat. He'd smok When I lived in the midwest in the mid-1990s, I caught a Detroit Tigers game at its old palace at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. So much baseball history lay within its walls. Some of that history -- indeed magic -- was made by No. 6, Al Kaline. I first heard his name while watching a MLB game of the week as a kid. With my interest in the Tigers, I found this biography of probably the greatest living Tiger of all. Al Kaline didn't need to hit a home run every time he came to bat. He'd smoke a single or a double and that'd be enough. He wasn't a power hitter. But he was a power presence for his team, over the course of 20+ seasons. As I began and got deeper into Hawkins' book, it felt like Al Kaline's life as told to Jim Hawkins, with all unpleasantness seemingly air brushed out. Refreshingly, that wasn't the case. With AL KALINE, I rode the roller coaster that's the big league ballplayer's life. I witnessed his slumps and his successes, the weathering of the Tigers' lean years and the uproarious championship season of 1968. Through it all, Al Kaline was class, and not a curmudgeon. " .. [I]'ve always served baseball to the best of my ability," Al Kaline said at his Baseball Hall of Fame induction in 1980. After reading Jim Hawkins' account of Kaline's life and career, Al served the national past time in spades. And he was royalty in the palace at Michigan and Trumbull.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Danny Knobler

    Ernie Harwell considered this book important enough to contribute a forward, which he submitted after telling the world of the incurable cancer that eventually killed him. That should be enough reason for any Tiger fan, or Kaline fan, to find a copy and read it. The Kaline story is a compelling one, the Baltimore kid who signed out of high school and became a Detroit legend. Many people know the basics, that he won a batting title at age 20, in his second full season in the big leagues, that he o Ernie Harwell considered this book important enough to contribute a forward, which he submitted after telling the world of the incurable cancer that eventually killed him. That should be enough reason for any Tiger fan, or Kaline fan, to find a copy and read it. The Kaline story is a compelling one, the Baltimore kid who signed out of high school and became a Detroit legend. Many people know the basics, that he won a batting title at age 20, in his second full season in the big leagues, that he once turned down a $100,000 contract because he didn't really think he deserved it (Hawkins tells the whole story, which is slightly different), and that he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Another generation of Tiger fans know Kaline as the team's long-time television announcer. But there's plenty in this book that you don't already know. Hawk is a good friend, and I was privileged to get to know Al during my years in Detroit. No writer knows Kaline better than Hawkins does, and it's appropriate that Hawkins wrote this biography.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Detroit

    Back in the pre-internet dark ages, nothing much beat watching a ball game from the right-field overhang at the glorious, now-razed Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, fortified by hot dogs and loaded on a few doobs and rivers of watered-down stadium beer, marvelling at Al Kaline pegging a BB to home from the right-field corner. Kaline, still the youngest player ever to win a batting title at the tender age of 20, never spent a minute in the minors, proceeding directly to "Go" f Back in the pre-internet dark ages, nothing much beat watching a ball game from the right-field overhang at the glorious, now-razed Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, fortified by hot dogs and loaded on a few doobs and rivers of watered-down stadium beer, marvelling at Al Kaline pegging a BB to home from the right-field corner. Kaline, still the youngest player ever to win a batting title at the tender age of 20, never spent a minute in the minors, proceeding directly to "Go" from high school, a certified triple threat at the plate, in the field, and on the base paths. He had to wait 15 years for a World Series ring - that '68 team is still royalty around here - amassing Hall of Fame numbers along the way and staking claim as perhaps the most unassuming denizen of Cooperstown yet. It's all here and then some, Jim Hawkins coming up all aces in the portrayal of a guy who loved the game but the spotlight? Not so much.

  13. 5 out of 5

    J.b. Likeric

    I enjoyed this book. Al Kaline was the man on the tigers team when I was growing up. It was good to read this book to compare what my memories of him were to how he was presented in this biography. The book covered Al`s life as a kid till the end of his career. Jim Hawkins, the author, covered the tigers history, ownership, management, teammates as well as the teams he was on. From my youth, I didn`t realize he played on so many losing teams. The 1968 team is the one I remember. Anyway, the book I enjoyed this book. Al Kaline was the man on the tigers team when I was growing up. It was good to read this book to compare what my memories of him were to how he was presented in this biography. The book covered Al`s life as a kid till the end of his career. Jim Hawkins, the author, covered the tigers history, ownership, management, teammates as well as the teams he was on. From my youth, I didn`t realize he played on so many losing teams. The 1968 team is the one I remember. Anyway, the book was a very good read, as I found out much I did not remember of this time period. And I have been a big baseball fan my whole life. If ya love baseball, and Al Kaline, pick this one up. It is a good read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris Dean

    I enjoyed this book simply because there is a need for a biography on the longtime Tigers icon, on the other hand, there wasn't much here that had not already been covered. Kaline is presented as the classy, dignified man and ballplayer that he is, but there isn't a whole lot of depth to the things happening around him while he was playing. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading about Kaline - a quick and easy read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    A nice biography of a great Hall of Fame ball player (inducted on the first ballot)and a real gentleman. As an eighteen year old skinny kid from Baltimore he started playing in the major leagues. At 20 years old he won the batting title in 1955 . Twenty two years as a Detroit Tiger and the first to have his number retired. Helped the 1968 Tigers win the World Series against St. Louis after being down three games to one. Those were some good old days.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark Prak

    As spots biographies go, it was fine. I'm a big Kaline fan, so I enjoyed the book. I recall listening to the 1968 World Series on my transistor radio during school and also watching the Tigers and the Cardinals on the TV sets set up in certain rooms at Robert H. Goddard Jr. High School. What fun we had !

  17. 5 out of 5

    Renay

    Great trip down memory lane for those of us who watched this Tiger great. I didn't realize just how much Al had to fight through injuries in his career. Great biography of a Tiger great.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bill Gilbert

  19. 5 out of 5

    George Majchrzak

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brent Darling

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Baumhart

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jake

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joe Wikert

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Stetz

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Lang

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chuck Warn

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steven Meyers

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