Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bengal Belters (#216)

Here is another of the 13 multi-player cards that Topps included in their 1967 set - the Detroit Tigers' "Bengal Belters". (I always pictured Norm Cash as your typical burly, slugging 1st baseman, but here he looks smallish next to Al Kaline.)

Norm Cash was signed by the White Sox in 1955, and after appearing briefly with Chicago in '58 and '59 (including the 1959 World Series), he was traded to the Indians in a 7-player deal that included Minnie Minoso returning to the Sox. A week before the 1960 season started, Cash was flipped to the Tigers.

After sharing the starting 1st base job in 1960, Norm had a break-out season in 1961, starting 157 games and leading the AL in hits (193), batting average (.361), and intentional walks (19). Cash held the starting 1B job until June 7th, 1974, when catcher Bill Freehan moved out to 1st base, sending Cash to the bench for the rest of the season.

Al Kaline joined the Tigers as a bonus baby in 1953 at age 18, having never played in the minors. He appeared in 30 games that season (mostly as a pinch-hitter) then was a regular outfielder for the Tigers for the next 19 seasons (1954-72).

He led the AL in hits (200) and batting average (.340) in 1955, and hit over .300 eight other times. He also hit .379 in the 1968 World Series, and played in the 1972 ALCS.

Normally the team's right fielder, he was the regular center fielder in '59, '60, and parts of '65 and '66. Kaline was a part-time RF/1B in 1973, and the full-time DH in his final season (1974).

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