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.
Yesterday the kids and I headed south to a baseball card show that featured former Detroit Tiger and 1968 World Series Champion Jim Northrup signing autographs. Little road trips are always fun, and especially if you can meat an ex-big leaguer. The kids had no idea who he was, but are always up for an adventure. Northrup played well before my time, too, but I can appreciate what he did as a Tiger. I think that they were a little confused, too, as he really doesn’t look a lot like he did on his baseball cards anymore. Northrup was great with the kids, though, as he was with all of the fans who came to meet him. I think the older player really get what the fans and the game really meen better than some of the bozos who play today’s game. The kids each got a card signed and their Papa and I each got a baseball signed so it was a successfull trip. As for baseball cards, I really didn’t find anything I was looking for-although I still view cards as a hobby, not an industry (that could be an entire blog on it’s own). This helped us gear up for the games next month, though. Just a few weeks away.
Photos property of MIB