SI Vault
 
Short To Second To None
Steve Wulf
September 12, 1983
The Keystone Kids, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, keep the Detroit Tigers purring in the AL East race
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 12, 1983

Short To Second To None

The Keystone Kids, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, keep the Detroit Tigers purring in the AL East race

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

Whitaker caught a lot of flak in 1980. Pushed into the leadoff spot to replace Ron LeFlore, who had been the best man at his wedding, Whitaker hit only .233. He said he wouldn't mind being traded, SWEET LOU TURNS SOUR became a tired headline. The "Loos" actually became "boos."

In August 1980 Trammell signed a seven-year, $2.8 million contract. He hit .300 in '80, and .258 in each of the last two seasons. He also stopped rooming with Whitaker. Whitaker hit a soft .263 in '81, but last year showed surprising pop, batting .286 with 15 homers. Last November he signed a five-year, $3 million contract.

Whitaker and Trammell have drifted apart socially, not out of enmity but to be with their families. Trammell married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Leverett, in February of '78, and Whitaker wed Crystal McCreary, a sometime model, after the '79 season.

Whitaker is shy—"I was taught not to talk unless I had something to say"—but once he gets going he can take a conversation on a wild ride, from second base to Martinsville to a luggage rack to the batting cage to Boston. When he's sitting in a dugout his eyes take in everything; if he notices Marty Castillo taking grounders at third, he'll run to first to give Castillo somebody to throw to. Whitaker is a little more appreciative of the finer things in life than Trammell is, having never had them while growing up. Lou was once quoted as saying, "Sweetness is my weakness." Whitaker also likes to sleep, and he can do it anytime, anywhere.

Trammell is more outgoing and talkative, although he's not exactly colorful. He does have one fault: He's a klutz. "He is the world's worst eater," says First Baseman Enos Cabell. "You better sit on his left side or else he'll spill on you." Says Third Baseman Tom Brookens, "Alan has to Scotchgard all his pants." Says Castillo, "His hands are like Mel Tillis' speech: Mel stutters when he talks, but he sings perfectly. If it's not a baseball, Alan drops it."

The one knock against Whitaker and Trammell before this year was that they weren't aggressive enough—at bat, in the field or in the locker room. Cabell says, "I told Lou he should be more like George Brett—when George has two hits, he wants three, and when he has three, he wants four. Some players are hesitant to become stars, like they don't think it's their place." Batting Coach Gates Brown persuaded Trammell to close his stance and not take the first fastball for a strike. Whitaker pulls the ball now; teams no longer play him to go the other way.

Says Whitaker, "They never thought we'd do much as hitters. I don't think anybody expected anything out of us except defense." Trammell nods and says, "We wanted to prove these people wrong. I don't think we're going to hit .240 anymore."

Whitaker nods; 4-6-4.

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

1 2 3 4