It has been quite a week for Martinsville’s Lou Whitaker.
The Detroit Tigers honored Whitaker by retiring his Number 1 in honor of his accomplishments during his 19 years with the team.
In a video tribute kicking off the ceremony, narrator J.K. Simmons said of Whitaker, “this kid from humble beginnings is one of the greatest second basemen to ever play the game.”
Originally scheduled for 2020, and postponed by COVID, the day arrived on Saturday, August 6 at Comerica Park in Detroit. Whitaker’s number 1 was officially retired. His name and number were added to the outfield wall alongside other Tiger legends in particular, his longtime teammate Alan Trammell’s Number 3.
During the pregame ceremony, Trammel said, “today Lou Whitaker gets his due and I couldn’t be prouder to have number-one next to number-three, linked together forever. You know what’s next? The Hall of Fame.”
Whitaker and Trammell made up the longest running double play combination in baseball history, and what many believe to be the best. Among the Tiger’s leaders in many stats, Whitaker tallied 244 home runs, 2,369 hits and a career batting average of .276. He also was named rookie of the year in 1978, was a five-time all-star, and a World Series champion in 1984.
“This will be one of the greatest moments in my life, just knowing my number will be retired and I’ll get a chance to see my number on the wall with some legends from Tiger history,” Whitaker told those fortunate enough to be in the sold-out Comerica Park. “What an honor.”
During his speech, Whitaker gave a shout out to Martinsville and Henry County, where he said he “played ball all day and all night.” He thanked his family and friends. “They’re the reason I’m here today.”
In Martinsville, Whitaker received another honor, this time from this home state. The General Assembly, in House Joint Resolution 247, commended him for his career in baseball, his number being retired, and “as an expression of the General Assembly’s admiration for his achievements.” He
was presented with the honor by Danny Turner, a member of Martinsville City Council, Monday night at Hooker Field.