Sunday, September 13, 2009

#206 Willie Horton

#206 Willie Horton
It's really thoughtful of Willie Horton to take his swings with his back to those houses. You wouldn't want to break a window, after all. Incidentally, Willie had one of the more unique superstitions I've ever heard, having worn the same batting helmet for his entire career. He even carried it with him whenever he changed teams, simply having it painted over with the new colors and logo!

Fun facts about Willie Horton:

-Was born in Arno, VA, but grew up in Detroit and signed with the Tigers in 1961.

-Debuted in the majors in 1963 at age 20, hitting a pinch home run against Hall of Famer Robin Roberts in his second career at-bat.

-Was an All-Star in 1965, hitting .273 with 29 HR and 104 RBI in his first season as a full-timer. It was the first of seven straight seasons that Willie hit 17 or more round-trippers.

-During the 12th Street race riot in Detroit in 1967, 43 people were killed and over 2,000 buildings were burned. One of the enduring images was Horton standing atop a car in his Tigers uniform, pleading in vain for the angry mob to cease.

-Hit .285 with a career-best 36 homers in 1968, earning his second All-Star trip. He starred in the World Series win over the Cardinals that fall, hitting .304 with a .448 on-base percentage and three extra-base hits.

-Was a four-time All-Star, with his other two selections coming in 1970 (.305, 17 HR in 96 games) and 1973 (career-high .316, 17 HR).

-Extended his career by taking advantage of the newly-created designated hitter position, serving 753 games as DH between 1973 and 1980. 162 of those games came in 1979, when the 36-year-old won the Comeback Player of the Year award one year after batting .252 for three teams. Playing for the Mariners, Horton rebounded to hit .279 with 29 HR and 106 RBI, his best production in over a decade.

-Retired in 1980 as a career .273 hitter in parts of eighteen seasons with 325 home runs and 1163 RBI.

-Coached for the 1985 Yankees and 1986 White Sox.

-Has been honored for his contributions to the Tigers with a statue at Comerica Park. The club also retired his #23 in 2000, and he currently works for the team as a Special Assistant to team President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski.
#206 Willie Horton (back)


  1. the helmet superstition is interesting. Horton had a pretty solid career.

  2. Bruce Bochy and Kevin Mench have the same issue with batting helmets, but for a different reason; both of them have hat sizes over 8 and they bring their helmet with them to new teams because they actually fit.

  3. Matt - He definitely could hit the ball. I never realized that he hit over 300 HR.

    Max - I could certainly understand that. I believe Mench is the same guy who went on a HR streak after realizing that he'd been wearing shoes that were one size too small!