Lane Stewart
May 12, 2017

The Tigers have generally pegged retiring a player’s number to his inclusion in the Hall of Fame, but they have made one exception: Willie Horton’s No. 23. The Detroit native, a four-time All-Star who played for the team from 1963 to '77, was not only one of the big bats from the Tigers' 1968 world championship squad but also became a civic icon for going into the streets while still in his uniform during the 12th Street Riot in '67, pleading for peace; the team has also honored him with a statue at Comerica Park.

All of which is to say that the Tigers shouldn't hesitate to honor Trammell and Whitaker. From late 1977 through '95, the two played 1,918 games together, a record both for a double play combo and for AL teammates. Both players were key members of Detroit’s 1984 world champions and had Hall-caliber careers—they're around or above the JAWS standards at shortstop and second base, respectively—but they have been snubbed by voters to an almost shocking degree. Trammell, whose case and career numbers are very similar to those of 2012 Hall of Fame honoree Barry Larkin, lasted 15 years on the ballot and maxed out at 40.9% in 2016, his final turn. Whitaker, meanwhile, fell off after receiving just 2.9% in 2001, his first year of eligibility, and since then, he has never had his case considered by the Veterans Committee or Golden Era Committee.

For that matter, the Tigers could consider retiring Hall of Fame near-miss Jack Morris's No. 47. Unlike those of Trammell and Whitaker, that number hasn't even been reused since the pitcher's 1977 to '90 tenure in Detroit.

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