Celebrated second baseman throws out first pitch prior to Game 4
DETROIT -- Lou Whitaker is no stranger to winning baseball. When he was the second baseman for the last Tigers team to win a World Series, the 1984 club that beat San Diego, his team won 104 times in the regular season and seven more times en route to the ring.
And he's got a pretty good record in games in which he's thrown out the ceremonial first pitch, which he did again on Wednesday night prior to Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox at Comerica Park.
"I'm 2-0," Whitaker said. "I'll be 3-0 after today."
That confidence and sense of humor made "Sweet Lou" a beloved member of the Detroit community for the 19 years of his celebrated big league career, all of which were spent with the Tigers.
When asked how he felt about the fact that the site of the old Tiger Stadium, which was demolished in 2009, has not been converted into a museum or shrine of any kind as of yet, he said he hopes it will happen someday.
"I always say change is good," Whitaker said. "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 [Charlie] Gehringer, 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."
Whitaker took the field to a strong chant of "Looooouuuuu" in the Comerica Park stands and delivered an inside strike to Tigers catcher Brayan Pena. He said he didn't intend to make a big deal out of the pitch.
"I'm just going to throw it and get off the field and let the players go," Whitaker said. "This is their game."
The rest of the pregame fanfare in the newer stadium included a stirring national anthem by award-winning gospel artist Dr. Marvin L. Sapp, who was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The game ball was delivered by Staff Sgt. Christian Manuel of the United States Air Force from Troy, Mich. Manuel supported Operation Enduring Freedom while stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base and has also supported humanitarian efforts in response to Hurricane Katrina.
He has earned the Humanitarian Service Medal and has been awarded the National Defense Medal, as well as the Air Force Commendation and Achievement Medals. Manuel has proudly served the Air Force since 2002.