Kaline, Horton to share Draft duties
Tigers' honorary reps know about homegrown talent
Tigers Hall of Famers Al Kaline and Willie Horton were never drafted, having come up before the Draft began. However, they're the Tigers' shining examples of talent signed and developed in Detroit. They'll also be the faces of the franchise as honorary team representatives when this year's First-Year Player Draft takes center stage in a couple weeks.
The Tigers are preparing for their selection with the ninth overall pick in the first round.
Kaline is known as Mr. Tiger by many who grew up following Detroit, an almost immediate star who's now in his 56th year in the organization. After spending his entire 22-year playing career in a Detroit uniform, he spent more than two decades as a commentator on Tigers telecasts before joining the front office as a special assistant in 2002. He has been an instrumental member of the organization since, playing a part in several of the team's most important decisions.
Kaline was one of the rare talents who never spent a game in the Minor Leagues, going directly to the big leagues in 1953 at age 18. Two years later, he was the youngest batting champion in American League history. By the time his playing career ended in 1974, he had overtaken Ty Cobb for a franchise-record 2,834 games played to go with 399 home runs, along with 3,000 hits and a .297 career batting average.
Like Kaline, the Draft wasn't yet around when Horton was a standout athlete at Detroit's Northwestern High School. The Tigers signed him at age 18 soon after his high school graduation. Two years later, Horton broke into the Major Leagues, embarking on an 18-year career that included 15 seasons with the Tigers. He drove in 104 runs at age 22 in 1965, his first full big-league season, and collected his first of seven All-Star selections along the way.
Both Kaline and Horton played critical parts on the Tigers' 1968 team that beat the favored St. Louis Cardinals in seven games to win the World Series.
Horton also serves the Tigers organization to this day as a special assistant. Beyond his involvement in the front office and the community, he has become a mentor for some of the Tigers' young players.
MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11. The MLB Network will broadcast the first round on the evening of June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.
Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.
Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with the rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB Headquarters in New York, at noon ET on Wednesday, June 10. Rounds 31-50 will be on Thursday, June 11, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.