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DETROIT TIGERS

April 10, 1961
April 10, 1961

Table of Contents
April 10, 1961

Point Of Fact
  • By M. Allen

    A baseball quiz to test the ingenuity and add to the knowledge of both the casual fan and the armchair expert

Too Young
Auto War
Cubs And Coaches
Scouting Reports 1961
Goren
Acknowledgments
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back
Departments

DETROIT TIGERS

The somnolent Tiger wouldn't hurt a kid pitcher—most days. Manager Bob Scheffing must get the Tiger up and roaring, but he'd have more luck if he had some infielders

ANALYSIS OF THE TIGERS

This is an article from the April 10, 1961 issue Original Layout

STRONG POINTS
The Tigers have the best outfield in the league—maybe—and good pitching. The outfield has Rocky Colavito in left, Bill Bruton in center, Al Kaline in right. Kaline had a miserable season last year—.278, 15 HRs, 68 RBIs. He's in his favorite position now and his hitting should return to normal. Bruton, after seven steady seasons with Milwaukee (never below .272, never above .289), will provide topnotch service in center field. Colavito, like Kaline, was sub-par last year—he never seemed to recover from the shock of the trade that took him out of Cleveland the day before the season began. Frank Lary (who has 23-8 lifetime record against Yankees), Jim Bunning and Don Mossi are reliable starters, and Hank Aguirre is a solid reliever.

WEAK SPOTS
Infield, catching and secondary pitching. The infield is awful, perhaps not even as good as the two new American League teams. Norm Cash on first provides the only flicker of class. Last year he surprised everyone by leading the team in hitting at .286. It remains to be seen if he can continue. The rest of the infield—Chuck Cottier at second, Chico Fernandez at short and rookie Steve Boros at third—are not major league hitters, unless Boros surprises. Fernandez is a career .241 hitter. Cottier hits like Fernandez. Dick Brown will probably be first-string catcher despite a .231 lifetime average, with burly Harry Chiti in reserve. Tiger pitching thins out fast after the top few. Paul Foytack, once good for 15 wins a year, was 2-11 last year with 6.12 ERA.

THE BIG IFS
Detroit has no ifs. Everything is obvious, and bad. Perhaps Charley Maxwell could be developed into an if. He is an outfielder-first baseman on a team that has three good outfielders and a passable first baseman. If the Tigers could trade him—which Charley would like—for something they need, like an infielder or a catcher or six pitchers, it would help. Almost anything would help.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Bruton and Cottier are new, in from Milwaukee. Jake Wood, a 23-year-old second baseman, hit .305 at Denver and could take the job away from Cottier. The best-looking rookie is Boros, the third baseman. The Most Valuable Player in the American Association last year, Boros hit .317, 30 home runs and drove in 119 runs. He also stole 22 bases.

OUTLOOK
The situation in Detroit is desperate. Assuming Kaline and Colavito do improve on their last year's performances, which is likely, the first division still appears too far away. A better bet is a collapse to seventh.

THE ORDEAL OF ROCKY COLAVITO

"Most people don't know what Rocky Colavito went through last season," a man was saying. "He had hit 40 home runs and driven in over 100 for two straight years. He was a big man in Cleveland—nice home, a baby sitter any time he needed one, friends all over town. The way he was going he had every right to expect to stay there for 10 years.

"Then, the day before the season begins, Frank Lane trades him to Detroit for Kuenn, and he reads that Lane has called him hamburger compared to Kuenn's steak. The Tigers open the season in Cleveland and all of Rocky's fans show up with big banners. The game goes 15 innings, it gets cold and dark, Rocky goes 0 for 6 and strikes out four times. When the game ends the banners are lying in the outfield in shreds. It takes a long time to recover after a start like that."

Outfielder Billy Bruton, who came to the Tigers from the Milwaukee Braves in a trade this winter, pounded his right fist into his glove. "I've never played in the Detroit ball park," he said. "But I don't expect to have too much trouble. Most ball parks are the same for me."

Bruton put his glove down and picked up a bat. "A new ball club does a lot of things for your career, sometimes."

Will he move his family to Detroit? "Oh, no," said Bruton, quickly. "I do public relations for the University of Wisconsin. I have to stay in Milwaukee. I like it there."

Just then a couple of the Milwaukee Braves, preparing for an exhibition against the Tigers, walked by and greeted Billy warmly. Then he said, "Excuse me, please, I have to hit a couple." He stepped into the batting cage, bunted a couple of balls, then hit three line drives.

One Milwaukee player looked out toward center field. "We got a hole to fill," he said.

Chuck Cottier, the second baseman obtained in the trade with Milwaukee over the winter, doesn't look like a ballplayer. He is slender (5 feet 11, 165 pounds) and fair, and he seems much younger than his age, which is 25. He is an impressive fielder, but in his seven years as a professional ballplayer his hitting has been generally poor, though he did hit .309 during a short stay with Louisville in the American Association last season.

In fielding practice Coach Phil Cavaretta hit ground balls to him, and Cottier demonstrated his grace and skill. He handled hard-hit balls to his left and to his right with ease. He whipped through a double-play pivot, taking the ball at second and throwing it on to first in one fluid motion.

A few minutes later he took his swings in batting practice. He punched at the ball, hitting a couple of slow rollers, missing one pitch completely, lifting one good drive deep to left field.

Manager Bob Scheffing leaned against the Tiger dugout watching the workout.

"When a kid can field like that," he said, "you just want him to hit, even a little."

A Detroit writer took out a press guide and read Cottier's past batting averages to Scheffing: ".216 at Topeka, .269 at Atlanta, .226 at Louisville, .125 at Milwaukee."

"Right now," said Scheffing wistfully, "I'd take .250 at Detroit."

THE FRONT OFFICE
For first time since Walter O. Briggs Sr. died in 1952, all is quiet in Detroit. The constant ferment in the front office subsided when strong man John Fetzer, who owns controlling interest, took over president's chair and indicated he would take active role in operation of club. Millionaire Fetzer, a radio-TV executive from Kalamazoo, Mich., was part of group that bought Tigers from Briggs heirs in July 1956 for $5.5 million. Longtime Tiger Executive Harry Sisson continues as executive vice-president. With Bill DeWitt gone to Cincinnati after one year with the Tigers, Vice-Presidents Rick Ferrell and Jimmy Campbell will run the baseball side. Ferrell is former American League catching star, Campbell a career front-office man. Top minor league club is now Denver, which used to be Yankee farm.

THE BALL PARK
Briggs Stadium (52,904 capacity) is Briggs Stadium no longer, now called Tiger Stadium. By any name, ball park is still in same place—two blocks east of John Lodge Expressway, modest cab fare from hotel area. Parking barely adequate, limited to small lots and backyards; price: $1. Popular way of avoiding inevitable traffic snarl: park farther downtown, hop bus or walk easy mile along Michigan Ave. Stadium is grand place to watch baseball. No really bad seats and crowds are knowing and enthusiastic. Ushers rarely growl when not tipped. Beer sold. A new scoreboard, but without Veeckian rockets and whistles, decorates center-field wall. Fireworks, however, may be presented occasionally after night games. Five-man combo frequently wanders through stands playing requests. All of which makes for pleasant time at Briggs, er, Tiger Stadium.

View this article in the original magazine

PHOTOJIM BUNNINGPHOTOFRANK LARYPHOTOROCKY COLAVITOPHOTOAL KALINEILLUSTRATIONBILL CHARMATZ

1960 TEAM PERFORMANCE

FINISHED

WON

LOST

GAMES BEHIND

6

71

83

26

1960 INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES

BATTING

PITCHING

Bruton

.286

Lary

15-15

Cash

.286

Mossi

9-8

Kaline

.278

Bunning

11-14

HOME RUNS

RUNS BATTED IN

Colavito

35

Colavito

87

Maxwell

24

Maxwell

81

Cash

18

Kaline

68