R.I.P. Jim Northrup

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.

Photos property of M.I.B.


  1. This is a very simple game...

    You are all so lucky to have had the chance to meet him. And Lily and Trevor will understand the significance of the experience and autographs later if they don’t already. It is great to hear that he was so gracious to your children. It’s absolutely wonderful when our heroes live up to and beyond our expectations.
    — Kristen

  2. Michael David

    Jeff-the ’68 was pretty sweet, with a lot of HOFers. No hard feelings, as ’06 was your year.
    Catherine-you don’t see too many multi-sports athletes any more. Not like that.
    Kristen-I think players in that era just had a better connection with the fans. He was really nice to everyone.

    • This is a very simple game...

      I think you’re right Mike. I listen to my parents’ (and listened to my grandparents’) stories of meeting players (and the one time I met Don Drysdale, such a nice man! He was especially kid to the little girl I was at the time) and it was completely different than it is now. I understand why it’s changed – in part because fans have gottten crazier – but I wish the connection could be like it used to be.
      — Kristen

  3. Emma

    What a thrill for you and your kids got to meet Jim Northrup. I love to heari stories like these where the players are so nice to the fans. Rest in peace Jim.
    Emma at the Twin Cities ready for the series with the Dodgers.

  4. Michael David

    Kristen-I think the players back in that day could identify with the fans more because they were working class type people like the majority of the fans were/are. It’s hard for fans to identify with the billionaire type superstars of today (generally speaking).
    Mark-$25 a pop is brutal, especially if it’s for your son or something. If the proceeds go to charity, then it’s somewhat understandable, but still.
    Emma-he was very nice, and represented himself and baseball very well. Good luck to the Dodgers against the Twinkies.

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