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Oct. 16 Lou Whitaker pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. I just wanted to know what you thought of Jose Iglesias wearing your No. 1, it hadn't been worn for such a long time and he gets traded and now he's wearing it?

LOU WHITAKER: I get the toughest question right off the bat, don't I?

Q. I just wanted to know what you thought of Jose Iglesias wearing your No. 1, it hadn't been worn for such a long time and he gets traded and now he's wearing it?

LOU WHITAKER: I get the toughest question right off the bat, don't I?

Well, you know, Tigers want to be No. 1. You need No. 1 on the field. And so he was brave enough to ask for it. He got it. I was a rookie when I had it. He's a rookie. So hopefully he can just have a great career.

Q. I want to take you back a little bit. Can you share some of your favorite memories from Tiger Stadium.

LOU WHITAKER: Wow, every day I went there. The ballplayers, Sparky Anderson, great coaches, fans, winning the World Series, American League Rookie of the Year, playing against some of the best players in the world, you know, it was a dream come true.

Q.  Is it a bit disappointing to see that site hasn't been turned into something now, that it's been abandoned?

LOU WHITAKER:  What was that again?

Q.  The site, the Tiger Stadium site.

LOU WHITAKER:  I always say change is good. Change is always good. Again, there's a lot of memories, the history in Tiger Stadium. Some of the best players before my time played the game there. Before it was Tiger Stadium it was many other stadiums. People like Ty Cobb and Derringer, just a lot of history.

I'm sure a lot of people in Detroit felt really bad to see it the way it is today. But hopefully they can do something and make it a beautiful site there and keep the memories going. This is a beautiful stadium here.

Q.  One more about Iglesias, did he ask you if he could wear the number?

LOU WHITAKER:  I guess he went in there and saw nobody wearing the number, it was for grabs, and that's what he wanted and that's what he got.

Q.  I'm just curious, you and Trammell obviously played a long time together, had very nice careers, haven't got the respect that maybe people here in Detroit think you should have gotten from Hall of Fame voters. Why do you think you haven't received the support that maybe a lot of people here think you should have?

LOU WHITAKER: It's a tough question for me to answer, you know. It's in the media's hand. Wow, it's very tough.

I think Tramm and I, we loved to play. We did everything, you know, the way baseball should be played. My whole thing was to one day be a professional athlete. I had the opportunity and the rest is for everyone else.

I'm getting close now. November 12th, I'm in the Michigan Hall of Fame, Florida State Hall of Fame, Virginia, been there. November 12th, I'm in New York, going into the New York State Hall of Fame, I'm getting close. Cooperstown is just right down the road.

Q.  With all the cool statues here in the Comerica Park, have you ever thought, I don't know if there are any plans for it or not, to have a Whitaker and Trammell turning a double play statue? That seems like the '84 representation statue, and you guys obviously the face of those teams. Has that ever struck your mind, maybe?

LOU WHITAKER: Well, we've walked around and we've looked at all the statues, some great players from Detroit past, they're out there. You know, sometimes you just admire what's there.

You wait your turn, I suppose. I'm not in a rush, you know. I guess the less fame I get the longer I'll live. So I guess when all that stuff started to happen, might be bad things around on the side, you know. I can wait another 5, 10, 20 years, that means I'm still living.

Q.  Tigers have a leadoff hitter today. How was it different than batting any other spot in the lineup?

LOU WHITAKER:  Well, I was one who just went to the plate. I saw something, and Gates Brown taught me this, he told me many years ago how many times have I seen the pitcher. So why do you go up and take good pitches? So from that point on I go up, I see something and I attack. Sparky a lot of times would drop his head, like, wow.

But it's a game and you live with it and you learn from it. But a lot of leadoff hitters like to take a lot of pitches and they try to work the count. I wasn't one like that. That was just me. Everybody is different.

And I made contact. That may have been a bad thing sometimes, putting the ball in play, a weak ground ball or something like that. But every player is different. You've got people that swing through pitches a lot, strikeout a lot. And you've got people like Wade Boggs take pitches and base hit after base hit.

So there's many different leadoff hitters for many years from the past and it's a game of, what, 27 outs. Sometimes you get hit, sometimes you don't. But it's not easy being a leadoff hitter. It takes a lot of time, a lot of thinking and sometimes you can overthink. So the best way is to see something that you can hit and hit it good.

Q.  What does it mean to you to have been invited here to throw out the first pitch in this game as this team tries to win a World Series for the first time since you guys did it? Do you have anything up your sleeve for the actual pitch, itself?

LOU WHITAKER:  No, I'm just going to throw it and get off the field and let the players go. This is their game. But this is the third time that I'm throwing out the first pitch. I'm 2‑0. I'll be 3‑0 after today (laughter).

Q. Lou, what are your memories of Prince Fielder when he was growing up around the team and how well do you know him today?

LOU WHITAKER:  Well, he loved to eat (laughter). He always had a hot dog here, a soda here and a popcorn there (indicating). And in the clubhouse, he and Tony Phillips, they joked and they wrestled all the time. So he had fun.

I'm surprised, I saw him when he was in the 10th grade, and I saw this buff kid, and Cecil told me, Lou, that boy can hit. And then coming out of high school being the No. 1 pick, that was awesome. But just watching him grow up, you know, I didn't think he would turn out what we see today, one of the most celebrated players in the game today, very much liked. Loves the game. And he's out there every day. You can't ask for more than that.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.