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Tigers Great Willie Horton Serves as Honorary AL Coach at MLB All-Star Game

Photo: USA Today Sports

LOS ANGELES, July 18, 2022 ~ Four-time MLB All-Star and Detroit Tigers legend Willie Horton will serve as the American League’s honorary coach for the July 19 game at Dodger Stadium. The invitation was extended to Horton by American League Manager Dusty Baker.

It will be one of my greatest honors to stand alongside one of the best baseball men I know, Mr. Dusty Baker, as an honorary coach at this year’s All-Star Game.” said Willie Horton in a statement following the invitation announcement. “Some of the greatest memories from my playing career came from my four All-Star appearances, and I’m excited to help represent the Tigers among baseball’s best and brightest at Dodger Stadium.”


July 19, 2022 ~ WJR Sports Analyst Steve Courtney talks about the 2022 MLB All-Star Game.

Signing with the Tigers in 1961, all of Horton’s four All-Star inclusions were during his 15 years as a Tiger. His 1968 season was perhaps his most successful, finishing second in the American League with 36 home runs, 85 RBIs, 278 total bases, a .543 slugging average, and a .895 OPS.

That year, he helped take the Tigers to a World Series title, while acting as a community leader in a city recovering from the 1967 riots. During Detroit’s 12th Street Riot in 1967, Horton made a brave attempt to restore peace by standing on top of a car in his Tiger uniform, pleading for rioters to calm down. Despite his efforts, the riots continued for five more days.

In 1970, during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Tiger Al Kaline collided with outfielder Jim Northrup while the two were pursuing a fly ball. Kaline remained on the ground after the hit, his jaw locked, and his tongue blocking his airway. Willie Horton rushed across the field, and was able to pry his jaw open and save his life. Horton still has scars on his right hand from Al Kaline’s teeth.

In 1975, he was the first Tiger to win the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, with a .275 average, 25 home runs, and 92 RBIs.


(CONTINUED) Following 15 years with the Tigers, he played with the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. Additionally, he had a single season with Venezuelan team Navegantes del Magallanes with a manager-player double role, taking the team from last place the previous season, to first place, and winning the 1979 Caribbean Series with a 5-1 record. He was given the nickname “El Brujo” (The Wizard) as a result.

The Detroit Tigers retired Willie Horton’s Number 23 on July 15, 2000, and was given the honor of being the sixth former Tiger to have a statue in Comerica Park. After an 18-season career, he finished with 1,993 hits, 873 runs, 1,163 RBIs, and a .273 average across 2,028 games. Among his main superstitions was the use of the same batting helmet during his whole career, repainting it when he changed teams.

Since 2002, he has been a special assistant with the Tigers as a community ambassador, front-office advisor, and player confidant. In 2019, Detroit City Council named a street near Horton’s childhood home Willie Horton Drive, and the State of Michigan began officially celebrating Willie Horton Day every year on his birthday, October 18, since 2004.


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