Mussina grooves send-off to Tigers pair Whitaker, Trammell aided in last at-bat

Orioles Notebook

September 22, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

DETROIT -- By Streak Week standards, the Tiger Stadium festivities for what could've been the final home appearances for second baseman Lou Whitaker, shortstop Alan Trammell and manager Sparky Anderson were negligible. No ceremonies, no presentations, no speeches.

Whitaker and Trammell, who played together in more games than any teammates in history, wanted it that way. Trammell went to club officials last week and asked that the Tigers do nothing special, because Trammell and Whitaker are still playing, and there's a chance that one or both could return for next year.

Anderson is expected to quit or be fired after this season, but no decision has been announced, making any sort of tribute for the manager somewhat inappropriate.

But the crowd of 14,803 was well aware of the possible ramifications of yesterday's game. When Anderson came out of the Tigers dugout to exchange lineup cards, he was cheered heartily. Whitaker and Trammell batted fifth and sixth in the Detroit lineup, and in the first at-bat for each, the crowd stood and cheered for about a minute.

Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina, who started Cal Ripken's record-breaking game No. 2,131, backed off the mound and waited for the cheers to dissipate before resuming action. Mussina had made it clear he wanted to pitch this game, to be part of history, as he had been Sept. 6.

In 1977, the year Trammell and Whitaker joined the Tigers, Mussina played his first year of organized baseball. At age 8.

"It's going to be something pretty neat," Mussina said. "When I'm done playing, I can always say that I was involved. . . . This is the day and age of free agency -- people don't stay with one team very long, and they go where the money is -- and I just feel that's going to continue. So to be involved in this, in something that may be fleeting, is kind of neat."

As the Orioles finished their at-bat in the top of the ninth inning, Whitaker stopped to step on second as he ran off the field. Whitaker and Trammell led off the ninth inning, and there were more cheers as Mussina warmed up for the ninth.

When Whitaker got to the plate, the Tigers trailing 13-1, catcher Chris Hoiles told him he would get nothing but fastballs from Mussina, down the middle of the plate. "I was trying," Mussina said smiling, "to throw them as skillfully as I could down the middle."

Whitaker swung from the heels his entire at-bat, but he grounded out hard to third baseman Bobby Bonilla. Trammell got the same advance notice from Hoiles. Here it comes.

Trammell had gotten nothing but fastballs in his first three at-bats, and hit a fly ball and two groundouts. "You guys can't do much more than you already have," Trammell told Hoiles.

Trammell swung at the first pitch and grounded to third.

Mussina said: "It's not going to kill me to let two guys get a hit or whatever happens there. . . . Not with that lead."

After the game, the fans chanted for Whitaker and Trammell until they came out of the clubhouse to give one final wave.

Trammell said: "This is overwhelming. That's the loudest 14,000 I've ever heard."

Whitaker: "I didn't expect this much. I think I'll go to my room in New York and cry."

The Tigers -- Whitaker, Trammell and Anderson -- will finish their season Oct. 1, at Camden Yards. Harold Baines hit a long drive to dead center in the seventh inning, to the deepest part of the ballpark. The ball bounced off the warning track and into the stands, a ground-rule double. Baines hit the ball about 430 feet and still missed his 300th career homer.

Orioles manager Phil Regan intends to keep Baines in the lineup every day, even against lefties, until he hits No. 300. Baines is mum on the subject.

"You can ask me a question about it when it happens," he said. "Not before."

Vaughn gets Regan MVP

The vote for AL MVP will be a tight competition between a handful of qualified candidates, such as Cleveland's Albert Belle and Jose Mesa, Seattle's Edgar Martinez and Boston's Mo Vaughn.

Regan said he would vote for Vaughn. "To me, he's carried that club all year long," Regan said. "He's been a steadying influence and has gotten big hits for them all year. He's been the one constant for them."

Regan would pick Belle second and Mesa third.

Around the horn

Regan talked with the Tigers' Anderson, who assured Regan he would not retire, even if he leaves Detroit. "He told me his wife doesn't want him to retire," Regan said. . . . The Tigers honored Ripken yesterday, third baseman Travis Fryman presenting him with a crystal ball. . . . The Orioles also scored 13 runs April 29 vs. Minnesota. . . . Detroit's Cecil Fielder turned 32 yesterday, but went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, raising his season total to 107.

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