The election, however, of former St. Louis Cardinals third basemen Scott Rolen (and, less so, Fred McGriff), put into sharper relief the inequity that Sweet Lou’s ongoing omission represents.
We don’t often call out matters of baseball politics and admit that the world has bigger injustices to cut down at the plate.
Still, we can’t help but point out that most acute baseball watchers acknowledge that Whitaker’s performance over his 19 years as the Tigers’ second baseman, paired for 1,918 games with shortstop and 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Alan Trammell, deserves a place in the hallowed halls of baseball history.
It’s not only for his hitting, which was remarkable for its consistency and stellar for a second baseman, or his rock-solid defense at one of the game’s most important positions, or even for his key role on the 1984 champion Tigers, one of the greatest teams in MLB history.
In no small measure, Whitaker should be there because he and Trammell together were the most prolific, impactful and long-running double-play combination in baseball history. Whitaker still ranks fourth all-time among second basemen, and Trammell seventh among shortstops, at turning “two for the price of one,” as Ernie Harwell used to tell us.
Whitaker’s next chance at the Hall is expected to be in 2025, at which time the electors need to make him the first African-American to enter as a Detroit Tiger. And, while they’re at it, they should defy tradition and make room for his plaque next to Trammell’s, where Sweet Lou has always belonged.