Top 10 moments of Alan Trammell's career

February 21st, 2022

Alan Trammell had to wait for his call to the Hall of Fame. Nearly two decades after he was first eligible for Cooperstown, the gates finally opened.

His plaque recognizes him as “Catalyst for dominant Tigers teams of the 1980s who showcased all-around excellence for two decades at shortstop.”

Detroit historians recognize Trammell as one of the greatest ambassadors for the game that Detroit has ever had.

Fans simply recognize him as Tram.

When he retired in 1996, Trammell ranked among the top shortstops of all time in hits, home runs, doubles, defensive games played and fielding percentage. He’s one of just two players to call the Tigers his team for his entire 20-year playing career. He teamed with Lou Whitaker to form the greatest double-play combination of all time.

He was enough of a Detroit icon that he landed a cameo appearance on a television series, appearing with Whitaker and Tom Selleck on Magnum P.I.

Aside from his brush with television fame, here are 10 of the greatest moments from Trammell’s playing career.

1. Two homers in Game 4 of World Series
Oct. 13, 1984
This is the signature game of Trammell’s career, and a huge reason he was the Most Valuable Player of the 1984 World Series. The Tigers had a chance to take command of the Fall Classic against the Padres, and Trammell provided all the offense Detroit needed with two-run homers off Eric Show in the first and third innings for a 4-2 win. Trammell told the Detroit Free Press he was in a daze as he rounded the bases on the second home run.

“I can poke the ball once in a while,” he joked.

When the Tigers clinched the series one night later in Game 5, Trammell was named World Series MVP.

2. Three hits, two walks, three RBIs in playoff debut
Oct. 2, 1984
For most of the Tigers’ core players, Game 1 of the ALCS in Kansas City marked their first postseason experience, and a sudden return to critical games after they cruised to an AL East title with 104 regular-season wins. Trammell, just 26 years old but in his seventh full Major League season, tripled in Whitaker with a drive off Kauffman Stadium’s left-field wall in his first at-bat off Bud Black, walked his next time up, homered off Black to lead off the fifth inning, hit an opposite-field RBI single in the seventh, then walked in the eighth. The road win in the opener sent the Tigers on their way to a three-game series sweep.

3. Game-tying homer, game-ending double play vs. Blue Jays
Oct. 2, 1987
Detroit fans will never get over Trammell being snubbed in AL MVP voting in 1987, and for good reason. Not only did Trammell put up numbers worthy of consideration, he delivered in the clutch when the Tigers needed him to beat George Bell’s Blue Jays in the season’s final weekend. Detroit trailed Toronto by a game going into the series at Tiger Stadium, and fell behind in the opener on Manuel Lee’s second-inning, three-run homer. But Trammell’s homer leading off the bottom of the third inning tied it, and his double-play turn on a Greg Myers comebacker to Mike Henneman finished off a 4-3 win and a deadlocked division race.

4. Walk-off single vs. Blue Jays
Oct. 3, 1987
The Tigers had a quick turnaround and a long Saturday afternoon, a four-hour game that went into the 12th inning at 2-2. Trammell went 1-for-5 against Toronto starter Mike Flanagan, but took advantage when the Jays finally went to their bullpen in the 12th. After Kirk Gibson’s one-out walk loaded the bases, Blue Jays manager Jimy Williams went to sidearmer Mark Eichhorn instead of closer Tom Henke to face Trammell, whose ground ball against a drawn-in infield went through shortstop Manuel Lee’s legs as fans chanted “M-V-P!” The win put the Tigers in position to clinch the division the next day.

5. Walk-off grand slam vs. Yankees
June 21, 1988
The Tigers entered the bottom of the ninth with a 6-1 deficit before two singles and a walk started the rally. Dave Righetti was a strike away from ending it, but back-to-back bases-loaded walks brought Trammell to the plate as the potential game-winning run. Cecilio Guante entered to give Trammell a different look, but Trammell blasted his full-count pitch deep to left. It marked the first ultimate grand slam in Tigers history, a feat matched by Rajai Davis 26 years later.

6. Five hits and a walk at Angels
July 24, 1983
Trammell had four five-hit games in his career, but this is the only game in which he reached base safely six times (not counting errors). After a first-inning walk, he flustered Ken Forsch with opposite-field singles in the third, fifth and seventh innings, the last of them scoring Tom Brookens to tie the game. Trammell pulled a double off Forsch in the 10th, then singled off Luis Sanchez after Lance Parrish’s leadoff homer in the 12th put Detroit in front for good.

7. Walk-off single, 4-for-4 vs. A’s
May 14, 1980
With three singles, a double and a walk, Trammell had half of Detroit’s hit total for the game and scored half of their six runs. But it was a two-out single in the ninth, after three walks and two strikeouts in the inning, that made the difference. It was Trammell’s first career walk-off hit, and it raised the 22-year-old’s batting average on the similarly young season to .370.

“This is the most gratifying game I can remember,” Trammell told the Detroit Free Press after the game.

8. Double shy of cycle at Twins
April 5, 1984
The Tigers tore up the league to start the 1984 season, and so did Trammell, who batted .340 with 36 runs scored and a .958 OPS over Detroit’s 35-5 start. His best game of the stretch came in the second game of the season at the Metrodome, where he tripled in the first inning, homered in the third and singled in the seventh. Needing a double for the cycle, Trammell singled in the ninth and stole second base.

9. Two hits in MLB debut at Red Sox
Sept. 9, 1977
Just a year after the Tigers made Trammell their second-round Draft pick out of high school, they made the 19-year-old a September call-up after an impressive season at Double-A Montgomery. Manager Ralph Houk put Trammell and Montgomery teammate Whitaker in the same lineup to make their Major League debuts together for the second game of a Friday night doubleheader at Fenway Park. Trammell, batting ninth, singled his first time up off Reggie Cleveland before Whitaker drove him in. Trammell singled again in the sixth off Rick Wise. Trammell and Whitaker combined for five of Detroit’s 16 hits in an 8-6 loss. The Tigers were swept in the doubleheader, but they had their double-play duo for the next 18 years.

10. Three stolen bases vs. Rangers
Aug. 7, 1979
Though Trammell wasn’t a speedster, he was an opportunistic baserunner, and an aggressive one early in his career. He had 20 multi-steal games in his career, but this was the only one in which he swiped three bases, tormenting Texas in the second game of a doubleheader after going hitless in the opener. His fourth-inning steal off backup catcher John Ellis set up Steve Kemp’s RBI single. The Rangers replaced Ellis with Jim Sundberg in the sixth inning, but after Trammell drew a leadoff walk, he stole second and third, scoring on a John Wockenfuss triple.