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DETROIT TIGERS
April 14, 1958
Everybody's glamour club last spring and a bitter disappointment in the summer, the Tigers don't intend to be either this year. They think they can win and, who knows, they might—if the Yankees were in another league. At least, they should be closer at the finish this season
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April 14, 1958

Detroit Tigers

Everybody's glamour club last spring and a bitter disappointment in the summer, the Tigers don't intend to be either this year. They think they can win and, who knows, they might—if the Yankees were in another league. At least, they should be closer at the finish this season

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BASIC ROSTER

no.

player

position

1957 record

1

Billy Martin

SS

.251

2

Frank Boiling

2B

.259

3

Johnny Groth

OF

.278

4

Charley Maxwell

LF

.276

5

Gail Harris

1B

.240

6

Al Kaline

RF

.295

7

Harvey Kuenn

CF

.277

8

Ray Boone

1B

.273

9

Gus Zernial

OF

.236

10

Red Wilson

C

.242

15

Jim Hegan

C

.216

16

Reno Bertoia

3B

.275

24

Lou Skizas

3B-OF

.245

11

Harry Byrd

P

4-3

14

Jim Bunning

P

20-8

17

Frank Lary

P

11-16

18

Tom Morgan

P

9-7

21

Paul Foytack

P

14-11

42

Hank Aguirre

P

minors

44

Billy Hoeft

P

9-11

THE MANAGER

Jack Tighe (35) is starting his second season as Detroit manager. Learned his craft well in 13 years as minor league manager in Detroit farm system and two seasons as Tiger coach. Never played in majors but spent 10 seasons as good minor league catcher. Bald-headed, and a high-quantity cigar smoker, the personable Tighe, at 44, has kept himself trim enough (5 feet 9, 185 pounds) to catch his batting practice pitchers before games. Tighe manages mostly by the book but at times may play hunches. His aides are Tommy Henrich (31), who will help the batters and coach first base; Billy Hitchcock (34), third-base coach; Willis Hudlin (33) in charge of pitchers; Don Lund (32).

ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S TIGERS

STRONG POINTS: The strength of the Tigers lies in a number of proven major leaguers who did their best to disclaim that honor last season. Normally, they should reverse last year's dive in batting averages. In 23-year-old Al Kaline, the Tigers have one of the most accomplished players in baseball: a man who runs well, fields well, throws well, hits well and who does everything a truly great player should do. Last year's slump to .295 (after he had won the American League batting title with .340 in 1955) should sting Kaline to greater efforts. Harvey Kuenn, whose .300-plus batting average had been a routine annual event, fell off that charmed plateau last year for the first time in six seasons. But one bad season isn't enough to say that he won't hit .300 again. With slugger Ray Boone's knees in good shape, the Tigers can count on him to get the big runs home once again. Second Baseman Frank Bolling is a steady, dependable performer in the field, who seems to be a better hitter than last year's .259 would suggest. Charley Maxwell has proved he is a topflight major league left fielder. Jim Bunning, the 1957 All-Star Game's winning pitcher, is the big man on the pitching staff. Frank Lary and Billy Hoeft were 20-game winners just two seasons ago. These three and 14-game winner Paul Foytack could give the Tigers as strong a starting quartet as any team in the league. With veteran Catcher Jim Hegan to guide them, the first-line pitching could be outstanding.

WEAK SPOTS: As Casey Stengel has so admirably demonstrated, you can't win a pennant without the reserves. The Tigers just don't have them. There are a number of pitchers behind the big four, but no one knows whether the second-line pitching can come through. There is quantity in the relief corps but so far no quality. Until they prove themselves, Harvey Kuenn in center field and Billy Martin at short have to be considered weak links in the vital middle of the team's defenses. Beyond the starters in the infield, there are no capable replacements beyond newly arrived Milt Boiling. Fans shudder to think of Gus Zernial and Bill Taylor playing together in the outfield. Catching is in capable but weak-hitting hands.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES: The man they say can make the Tigers is former longtime Yankee and shortorder Athletic, Billy Martin. Tagging along with him in the famous 13-player trade were Outfielder Gus Zernial of the big bat and slow feet; Outfielder Lou Skizas, who wants to play third; reserve Catcher Tim Thompson; and two veteran pitchers, Tom Morgan and Mickey McDermott. Added pinch-hitting strength is provided by ex-Giant Bill Taylor, a slugger. Gail Harris came from the Giants to relieve Boone at first; longtime Indian Jim Hegan gives the catching staff a lift. Hank Aguirre, a lefthander the Indians didn't want, has been impressive this spring. Another ex-Indian, Milt Bolling (Frank's brother), will relieve in infield. Only rookie with a real chance is Bob Shaw, a big right-hander with lots of stuff.

THE BIG IFS: Rarely has a spring training camp created such anguished question marks of its own choice. All-Star Shortstop Harvey Kuenn has been moved to center field and only time will tell whether he will make it. Pennant-winning Second Baseman Billy Martin has taken over shortstop; if the Tigers are going to move, he will have to supply the spark. No one wins without a first-class shortstop. Lack of depth means the Tigers need season-long performances from their starting lineup, including .300 hitting from those who have shown themselves capable of it. Bunning, Lary, Hoeft and Foytack may be on their own as the starting pitching staff. Ray Boone's knees must hold up.

THE VOICES

Van Patrick (40, resonant) brings a well-nourished sports background to his TV and radio work. At TCU he played football and starred in baseball, basketball and track. After years of minor league announcing experience, he spent two seasons with the Indians before becoming the voice of the Tigers in 1949. He is considered a competent professional announcer with a generally pleasing commercial air manner, MEL OTT (49, deliberate), for 20 years a great Giant player, began his announcing career doing the Game of the Day in 1955. This will be his third season with the Tigers. His vocalizing comes off second best to Patrick's well-modulated style but he is better than Patrick between innings. Despite his long baseball background, Ott rarely reminisces about the "good old days" under John McGraw. Both Patrick and Ott are handicapped because games are done simultaneously on radio and TV. Hence TV viewers say they talk too much and radio listeners reply, not enough.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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