Detroit — Manager AJ Hinch set the tone for MiggyFest earlier in the week.
“I told Miggy the other day, we’ve really enjoyed this season with the things he’s done,” Hinch said hours before the Tigers celebrated Miguel Cabrera’s milestone season Friday night. “He brought life and energy into our clubhouse and our ballpark. And watching him handle this has been really cool.
“He’s never been selfish about it one day.”
The Tigers threw Cabrera quite a party before the game against the Royals, a celebration of his historic 500th home run, which he hit in Toronto on Aug. 22.
There was a video montage of some of his most memorable home runs. A video tribute from Detroiters Cabrera has touched through Detroit Public Schools, the Police Athletic League, his scholarship fund and Children’s Hospital.
He was presented with mementos, portraits and other gifts, and Cabrera himself presented the batting helmet he wore when hit No. 500 to the Hall of Fame.
Among the guests of honor were his wife, mother, two daughters and his son. Willie Horton, Hinch, Tigers chairman and CEO Christopher Ilitch, general manager Al Avila, and Miguel Garcia, the scout who discovered him as a 16-year-old in Venezuela, were also on the field with him.
Former manager Jim Leyland and Avila both gave rousing speeches.
“Throughout his career,” Leyland said, “he played hard, he played hurt, he played humble. But most of all, he played happy. He continues to play with the excitement of a little leaguer, but with Hall of Fame results.”
Leyland called Cabrera the greatest player he ever managed.
In typical Cabrera fashion, though, he spun the celebration forward.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s great not only for the Tigers, but it’s good for the city of Detroit. Hopefully we can have more moments like this and win more games. I can’t wait for next year and try to be a team that’s fighting for the playoffs.
“I’m excited for what’s going to happen the next couple of years here. I think we’ve got great talent and a group of young guys who can be in the big leagues for a long time.”
Cabrera sat with his family during the presentation.
“It’s something new, something exciting for them,” he said. “My kids don’t really know what’s going to happen right now. But with time they are going to find out. I’m grateful they get to see this. Hopefully they can enjoy it.”
The next celebration will be when he reaches the 3,000 hits threshold. He went into the game Friday at 2,979.
“Hopefully I can do it when we’re talking about the playoffs,” Cabrera said. “There’s just more energy when you are playing for something. Right now we’re playing to be a .500 team. That’s our goal. Hopefully we can give that to the fans so they can believe in us again and then try to have more fun and win more games next year.”