Detroit Tigers News

College Football and the Detroit Tigers

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 16: Running Back Elijah Collins #24 of the Michigan State Spartans runs from defender Lavert Hill #24 of the Michigan Wolverines during the second half of a college football game at Michigan Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Ann Arbor, MI. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 16: Running Back Elijah Collins #24 of the Michigan State Spartans runs from defender Lavert Hill #24 of the Michigan Wolverines during the second half of a college football game at Michigan Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Ann Arbor, MI. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) /
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Don Lund

College Football
COLLEGE PARK, MD – MARCH 08: The Michigan Wolverines logo on a pair of shorts during a college basketball game against the Maryland Terrapins at the Xfinity Center on March 8, 2020 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** /

We have to go back for this one. A Detroit native, Don Lund was an outstanding athlete for the University of Michigan in the 1940s, where he played baseball, basketball, and football. He was on some strong UM football teams, starting at fullback against Ohio State as part of the conference champion1943 squad, and being named team MVP in 1944 when he began the season on defense before returning to fullback for the final four games. Lund finished his college football career with just three touchdowns and 643 yards from scrimmage, but he was nevertheless selected by the Chicago Bears with the 7th overall pick in the 1945 NFL draft.

But Lund decided against pro football and pursued a career in baseball. He mostly kicked around as a reserve outfielder, spending plenty of time in the minor leagues, but in 1953 he became a regular outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, batting .257 with 9 home runs in 131 games. The following season he returned to a backup role, sitting behind some hotshot young player named Albert William Kaline.

Lund quickly moved into scouting, and then spent part of 1958 as Detroit’s first-base coach before resigning to take over as the head baseball coach at the University of Michigan. He led Michigan to a surprise national championship in 1962, but then when his friend Jim Campbell was named General Manager of the Tigers, Lund returned to baseball as Detroit’s director of minor-league operations . Lund was instrumental in building the 1968 World Series champs, helping to acquire and develop Willie Horton, Mickey Stanley, Jim Northrup, Denny McLain, and Mickey Lolich, among others.

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