Courtesy of aberdeensports.net (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)
9. Ron LeFlore
Of all of the Detroit Tigers, Ron LeFlore’s route to the big leagues was the most unexpected. Born and raised in Detroit, his early life involved a life of crime and drugs. His mother tried to keep him on the straight and narrow, but the call of the streets were too much for him. He became a heroin addict and dropped out of school. Eventually, he was sent to Jackson State Penitentiary for armed robbery. He never played any sports prior to entering prison where he discovered baseball. Fortunately for LeFlore, Billy Martin heard about him. LeFlore was able to try out at Tiger Stadium and the rest is history. His unlikely and inspirational story was turned into a made-for-tv movie.
LeFlore played for nine years, earning a spot on the All-Star team in 1976. He also received votes in four years on the MVP ballot. In 1978, he led the league in runs scored and stolen bases. He also led the league in stolen bases, with 97, in 1980. The centerfielder’s career batting average was .288, but he had a handful of years at .300 or better. His story proves that a talented athlete can overcome any difficulty.