Detroit Tigers Outfielder Willie Horton
Four-time All-Star and Tigers legend Willie Horton just spent two seasons in the minors before he was called up for the final 15 games of the 1963 season, making his debut on September 10th as a pinch hitter for the pitcher. He put an impressive slash line of .326/.326/.488 (14-for-43).
He would make the club in 1964 in an outfield platoon. After an early-season slump, he was sent to Triple-A Syracuse, where he came into form, showing off the power he would be known for and would get the call up for good that September. His impact has been forever felt not only as a baseball player but his work within the community.
Catcher Lance Parrish
The “Big Wheel” made his debut as a September call-up on September 5th, 1977 against the Baltimore Orioles in the first game of a doubleheader. After hitting 25 home runs and batting .279 for Triple-A Evansville, it would not be until his second game until Tigers fans would see the power on display.
In a rain makeup game, Parrish would go deep in the 6th inning off Earl Stephenson. He would also double off Stephenson and finish the day going 3-for-4 with 4 RBI. While he finished the month hitting just .192, he would be one of the centerpieces of the 1984 World Series team.
Outfielder Ron LeFlore
So LeFlore debuted as a rookie getting a second chance at life on August 1st, 1974 after the Tigers signed him in the summer of 1973. Granted, this should not call up as a September call up but allow me to explain why he belongs here anyways.
The Tigers took a chance on Leflore after he was paroled from Jackson State Prison in the summer of 1973. He was in prison for robbery and many older Tigers fans know the story of LeFlore. But what stands out about LeFlore is that he never played baseball until he was out of prison. After spending a year between Clinton in Low-A and then later in High-A with Lakeland, where he showed his speed with 42 stolen bases, he replaced the injured Mickey Stanley in the lineup.
His September numbers? .278/.306/.302 (35-for-126) with 12 stolen bases. Considering his slow start in August and being still relatively new to baseball, to have the September numbers that he did, a tip of the cap.
Infielder Jim Walewander
Before there was Donnie Kelly, there was Jim Walewander. He was one of the callups in September 1987 but already had spent time in Detroit earlier that season. Why was he so enduring to Tigers fans? He could play different positions and Sparky Anderson loved his work ethic. He saw a lot of himself in Walewander. He got the nod as one of five Mud Hens getting the call up on September 1st.
He didn’t play third at all for Toledo in 1987 until he got the call up to Detroit in May. He was critical down the stretch for the Tigers to capture the AL East title with his glove. Of course, there was his three-hit game against Baltimore on September 29th when the Tigers crushed the Orioles 10 to 1.
In researching Jim Walewander, I finally found out the origins behind the punk band The Dead Milkman’s appearance at Tiger Stadium. He gave him a tour of the stadium. He was a fan of them and the Replacements, which is one of my favorite bands of all time. No wonder why people like Walewander.