Even on 65th birthday, this HOFer belongs at Tigertown

Detroit Tigers

LAKELAND, Fla. — The sun was shining on the practice fields at Tigertown on Tuesday morning. Still, if you blinked, you might have been carried back in time for a second as Alan Trammell stepped to snare a hard-hit ball in batting practice on the bounce. Riley Greene, who hit it, had to smile.

Minutes later, Greene ran to the outfield with a glove.

“What are you doing, Greeney?” Trammell shouted.

“Taking some flies,” Greene yelled back.

“All right,” Trammell exclaimed as he made his way out to right field.

Trammell shagged fly balls for batting practice, then helped collect balls when it ended.

Alan Trammell is a Hall of Famer. He was celebrating his 65th birthday Tuesday, as well as his wedding anniversary — not necessarily in that order.

“He said that [anniversary] is more important than his birthday,” Spencer Torkelson said. “That’s a very good answer.”

Trammell could have done anything he wanted Tuesday, or most days. Special assistant is a pretty open-ended role. This is where he wants to be.

“I’ve said this before, and I mean it with all sincerity: Where am I most comfortable? On a baseball field,” Trammell said. “It’s just who I am.”

That is not lost on those around him, players and coaches alike.

“I don’t think you’ll find a harder-working alum who gives back to the organization, that had such an established playing career,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. “Number’s on the board, his name’s in the Hall of Fame, everything that goes with Tram. He’s selfless. I mean, we were just out at second base after the workout dissecting the shift rules.

“His baseball mind’s as sharp as ever. His energy is high. And he garners a lot of respect, not only because of what he did in his career, but what he’s willing to do, how he’s willing to impact players.”

Trammell is working with a generation of players that wasn’t alive when he played. Before BP, he was on the field with a group of young third basemen, demonstrating throwing mechanics and fielding throws at second.

“He’s a Hall of Famer, and he knows better than anybody,” Colt Keith said. “He’s a great resource.”

It was a big story when Torkelson admitted after the Draft that he had to look up Trammell and read about his career. But he’s far from the only one.

“Well, his picture’s all over the place around here,” Keith said, “so I eventually looked it up. And then, after I met him a few days after that, I did a lot of research and figured out who he was.”

That was after the Tigers drafted Keith in 2020. Justyn-Henry Malloy, the third-base prospect the Tigers acquired from Atlanta in the Joe Jiménez trade, just met him during this camp.

“Being completely honest, the one thing I knew about him — as silly as it sounds — I played with his card in ‘MLB The Show,’” Malloy said. “I was like, ‘Trammell, Trammell …’ And then I was like, ‘Oh my God, I played with this guy in a video game.’”

“I’ve heard that story before,” Trammell said, referencing other players. “And it’s a compliment.”

This is the generation Trammell loves to work with, young players before they make it to the big leagues. He still bounces around the Tigers’ system all summer, at all levels. He has a camp for middle and high schoolers at Wayne State University in Detroit, partnering with longtime teammate and close friend Lance Parrish. And after he finishes helping players in Major League camp, he sticks around for Minor League minicamp.

“I think he loves just seeing guys develop and helping them get to where they want to be,” Torkelson said. “He’s just an unbelievable human being. Some guys don’t even realize how lucky we are to have him out here. He could easily be in San Diego golfing five times a week, chilling.”

Add in an early morning cardio workout, before players arrive, and Trammell pulls a 10-hour day at Tigertown sometimes. And there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

“I know it’s going to start to go this way,” Trammell said, turning his hand downward, “and wane a little bit. I’ve had multiple knee surgeries and I don’t have cartilage on [the left] side, and I feel it sometimes. It’s not going to get better. …

“My motto is, ‘Something’s better than nothing.’ I still have energy. I think it’s a blessing. I’ve always had probably a little more than most. And so I enjoy it.”

He’ll be heartened to know he still has it in the video-game world, too.

“I’m pretty sure I raked with him,” Malloy said. “He’s done me a service in that game.”

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