June 10th, 2011
Jim Northrup passed away yesterday in Holly, Michigan, and the baseball world lost a legend in his own right. Dubbed the ‘Grey Fox’, Northrup was born, attended college, played baseball, and passed on all in the Great Lake State of Michigan. He was born in the farming town of Breckenridge, and attended Alma College where he was a five-sport athlete. Not only did he play baseball, but was the quarterback for the football team, played basketball, ran track, and was on the golf team. His first love was baseball, and he signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1961 after turning down offers to play football for the Chicago Bears and New York Titans. Northrups best season with Detroit was in 1968, when he hit four grand slams in the regular season and one in the playoffs. He also helped the Tigers win the 1968 World Series over the Cardinals with a two-run triple of Bob Gibson in game 7. He patrolled the outfield of Tiger Stadium with fellow great Al Kaline, Mickey Stanley, and Willie Horton. His playing time increased during the ’68 Series when Stanley was moved to play shortstop. Northrup also played a short time with the Expos and Orioles, but retired after the 1974 season. The kids and I were lucky we were able to meet him last year at a baseball card show downstate. He looked so different from his baseball card at this time, I don’t think Lily and Trevor realized they were meeting the same guy. Northrup was so nice to them, though, and loved talking baseball with his fans. His playing days were well before my time, but as a fan of baseball and the Tigers, meeting him as a real thrill.