top of page

Al Kaline Becomes Second Highest Paid Tiger Ever

Dec. 18, 1963 - Al Kaline, the Detroit Tigers’ brilliant right fielder who never spent a day in the minor leagues, today received a combination early birthday and Christmas present when he signed his 1964 contract for an estimated $62,000. This was a $6,000 raise for Kaline, who turns 29 tomorrow, and made him the second highest paid player in the history of the Tigers, pushing him past Hank Greenberg’s $60,000 salary figure just after World War II. Greenberg got $80,000 in 1946, but $20,000 of it was in the form of a bonus, after he was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hal Newhouser still ranks as the best-paid player in Detroit history. Prince Hal got up to $72,000 in those years when he was winning 20 games almost every season for the Tigers. All of which proves that Kaline has come a long way. His first salary check from the Tigers was for $500. Now, he’ll get something like $5,600 every two weeks. Kaline looks fine and, at today’s press conference, he said he felt fine. The right knee which troubled him so much last season hasn’t bothered him at all, he said. “I’m ready to go,” he declared. Kaline missed 17 games last season, most of them because of those strained ligaments behind his right knee. Although he missed almost the last two weeks of the season, he still led the team in batting with a .312 average, RBIs with 101, hits with 172, and homers with 27. “I thought I might have to have the knee operated on,” he said. “It hurt me so much at the beginning of September I couldn’t bend it without severe pain. Even my broken shoulder didn’t hurt that much.” But, when he sat it out, he could feel the pain recede. He went to the Mayo Clinic for a physical at the end of the season, and the doctors there could find nothing wrong with his knee that more rest couldn’t cure. “I don’t mind you mentioning my birthday,” smiled Kaline today, “but I wish you wouldn’t mention the year.” Okay. Al Kaline will not be 29 tomorrow.


bottom of page