DETROIT -- In a week, Alan Trammell will find out if he's finally a Hall of Famer, but the former Tigers shortstop was more worried about the next generation of players than where he ranks in his own.On Saturday, as kids practiced fielding techniques on the basketball floor of Wayne
DETROIT -- In a week, Alan Trammell will find out if he's finally a Hall of Famer, but the former Tigers shortstop was more worried about the next generation of players than where he ranks in his own.
On Saturday, as kids practiced fielding techniques on the basketball floor of Wayne State University's Matthaei Center, the 59-year-old Trammell was practicing with them, demonstrating the fundamentals that helped make him a four-time Gold Glove winner and six-time All-Star. He has always been an active instructor, whether in his eight years with the Wayne State camp in midtown Detroit alongside teammate Lance Parrish or in his years as a Major League manager and coach and, more recently, Tigers special assistant. Taking a step back and being an ambassador has never been in his mind.
"If you ask me to rank what I like to do, it's working with the kids," Trammell said. "Part of my job and my duty is that no longer do I play, but I did experience a lot of things and I have some knowledge that I would like to pass along. And I guess to a certain degree, as we get older, it still kind of keeps us young at heart. It keeps me active. But I do love the game.
"There's no place I'd rather be than on a field. This is the next best thing."
Trammell is active enough in retirement that he doesn't take much time to worry about his legacy or if he'll ever get to Cooperstown. Trammell had his fill of that during his 15 years on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot. His inclusion on the ballot for the Modern Baseball Era Committee to consider is another chance, and perhaps a better one.
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The 16-member committee gathers Sunday at baseball's Winter Meetings to vote on a ballot that includes Trammell, longtime teammate Jack Morris and peers Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy and Dave Parker. Like the annual BBWAA ballot, candidates need to receive votes on 75 percent of ballots cast for election.
Assuming all 16 members cast ballots, Trammell needs at least 12 votes. If he or Morris get in, they'd be the first player from the Tigers' 1984 World Series championship team to be inducted. Another teammate, Lou Whitaker, was left off the ballot.
Trammell has been through this with the BBWAA ballot. After the first few years -- as contemporaries Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken and Barry Larkin made it in, while his support languished -- Trammell stopped anticipating anything other than interview requests from reporters. This is different, since it's the first year for this committee, which includes Hall of Famers from his era such as George Brett, Rod Carew, Dennis Eckersley, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount.
"It's not going to be easy," Trammell said. "I don't want to set my hopes and get let down, because I know that where I've been in the past with my [vote] percentages has never been close, even though I have support.
"Hey, I'm in a win-win situation. Honestly. If I don't make it, I'm still living my dream. I'm still doing exactly what I wanted to do. If I make it, it's going to be overwhelming and humbling. I feel more for the fans, the fans of Detroit and Michigan that have always been so supportive. It seems like, not that I wouldn't want to be in there, but it's like they want it. For that sake, I would probably cherish it even more, that they would say, 'Oh, that was part of our childhood. That was part of our group.' That means a lot."
While the committee debates, Trammell will be in the same hotel. But rather than count votes, Trammell will be working, filling his position as a Tigers front office member. He has become a trusted voice in much the same way Hall of Famer Al Kaline has been for years.
Trammell was the Tigers' manager the last time they undertook a full-scale rebuilding effort, 15 years ago. He's invested in this group, too, having worked with Dixon Machado and other Tigers infield prospects the last few years. Add together his playing, managerial and front-office careers, and Trammell has been involved in Major League Baseball for about 40 years, or two-thirds of his life.
"I don't want to let [fans and friends] down, but I have no control over any of this," Trammell said. "That's the way I look at it. I'm there anyways. I'll do my thing. I'll sit up there in the war room."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.