Akil Baddoo and the Best Debuts in Detroit Tigers History
Best Detroit Tigers Debut Number 5 – Dale Alexander
The Detroit Tigers teams of the 1930s were an offensive juggernaut, with future Hall-of-Famers Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, Goose Goslin, and Hank Greenberg regularly guiding the offense to more than 900 runs a season. But that run of success arguably started in 1929, when the offense was led not by a future Hall-of-Famer, but by a 26-year-old rookie named Dale Alexander.
Despite being a plodding first baseman, Alexander is tied with Austin Jackson for highest ever WAR (5.1) for a first-year Tigers hitter. He batted .343 and led the team with 25 home runs, 215 hits, and 137 RBIs. He had one more strong year for the Tigers, but then he mysteriously stopped hitting home runs, and in 1932 Detroit traded him to Boston. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Alexander’s career is the gruesome way it ended in 1933:
"Alexander hurt his leg sliding into home plate. Red Sox trainer Doc Woods used a new deep-heat method to try to reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and thereby speed healing: diathermy. Unfortunately, Woods left the machine on too long (apparently leaving the treatment room and not returning for quite some time) and burned Alexander’s leg. “They’d just barbecued his leg,” said son Steve. Don Alexander reported, “It really sort of atrophied. It really was smaller than the other. Just like it was a burn. Scarring tissue. It was discolored.”"
Dale Alexander never played another season in the majors.