Seated in his office beneath a larger-than-life portrait of Ty Cobb, Anderson, smaller than life and carrying 42 years of baseball sagacity in a duffel bag under each eye, launched a cumulus cloud from his pipe. "Looking around, you can definitely sense the end of a Tiger era, but eras come and go, from the Cobb era, to the Kaline era, to the age of Trammell and Whitaker," he said. "When I'm gone, others will begin a new era."
Barring a miracle at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, this season may add up to little more than a farewell tour for Trammell and Whitaker, the sublime double-play combination starting its big league-record 19th season. They debuted in the majors together, in the second game of a doubleheader in Boston on Sept. 9, 1977, and they have all but promised each other that they will end their magnificent careers by leaving the game side by side. "I think we're both proud of what we've done here," says Trammell, who has hit .300 or better seven times.
Adds Whitaker, one of only two Tigers ever to play 2,000 games, rap 2,000 hits and slug 200 home runs, "It seems like Tram and I have been turning the double play together since we were kids."
Their final double play might be scored Trammell-to-Whitaker-to-Cooperstown.
Across the clubhouse from the neighboring lockers of Trammell and Whitaker last Friday, Gibson was telling how, on the night of April 7, he was holding an Alaska fishing brochure in one hand and the phone in the other when he agreed to a contract with the Tigers literally 30 seconds before the deadline for a reentry free agent to sign with his former club. "Many experts have predicted our fate, but that's just noise," he said. "When I'm at bat in the bottom of the ninth, I don't listen to the noise. We need to ignore the noise. We have many valleys to cross before we can reach the highest peak. That's the message I'm passing on to these guys before I go off to...off to..."