Alan Trammell is a former professional baseball player for the Detroit Tigers, from 1977 to 1996. He has also been a major league coach and manager.
As a player
Born February 21, 1958, in Garden Grove, California, Trammell grew up playing baseball. He was a standout at Kearney High School in San Diego, so he entered the MLB amateur draft during his senior year. The Tigers made him their second pick with the twenty-sixth selection in the second round of the 1976 amateur draft. That fall, he was shipped off to Bristol, Alabama, where the Tigers' fall rookie league team was located. After completing the fall season with a .271 batting average, he was promoted to AA Montgomery the following spring, where he ate up Southern League pitching en route to becoming the Southern League MVP that year, finishing with a .291 BA. His MVP season was cut a bit short, though, as the Tigers called him up on September 1. Alan finished out the season in Detroit, though he hit only a modest .186 in 19 games.
Despite the initial setback during his cup-of-coffee call-up the previous season, he went on to become the Tigers' starting shortstop the following year, at the age of 20. It was that year, 1978, in which he and second baseman Lou Whitaker started playing together. The double play tandem they formed would last for the next 17 years, the longest-running SS/2B combo in baseball history, which ran until Whitaker retired following the 1995 season.
Tram went on to become a mainstay in the Detroit infield from then on until a few nagging injuries forced him into a lesser role toward the end of his on-field career. He started his first All-Star Game and won his first American League Gold Glove Award in 1980, which he followed up with more All-Star Game appearances in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990, along with additional Gold Gloves in 1981, 1983 and 1984. His .450 BA and 6 RBI won him the 1984 World Series MVP award, as well as the World Series title itself. The 1987 season was undoubtedly his best; he collected 205 hits, 28 HR, and 105 RBI on his way to a .343 BA, good enough for third in the American League. He finished second in AL MVP voting that year, though just narrowly, to Toronto's George Bell. After that, he played only one more full season (1990), during which he hit .304 and made his last All-Star appearance. The interim seasons, 1988 and 1989, saw Tram's playing time reduced a bit due to injuries, and after 1990 he never really returned to form, missing more than half of each season from 1992 to 1996, with the exception of 1993 during which he made a decent comeback attempt, hitting .329, but playing in only 112 games that year.
Tram decided to call it quits after the 1996 season, another in which his playing time was limited due to injuries. He received a 5-minute standing ovation from the capacity crowd at Tiger Stadium preceding his final at-bat on September 29, 1996.
Trammell has historically been overlooked due to the other great shortstops that played in his era, such as Cal Ripken, Robin Yount, and Ozzie Smith (all three are Hall-of-Famers). That being the case, it is unlikely that he will be elected to the MLB Hall of Fame. In 2002, his first year of eligibility, he garnered only 15% of the vote, 14% the following year, and 13% the year after that. Though he garnered 16-18% of the vote from 2005 through 2008, his vote totals will most likely decline enough over the years that he'll be removed from the ballot. After that, it'll be up to the Veterans Committee to get him into the HOF, if it's in the cards. Former New York Yankees great Don Mattingly is in a similar situation with the HOF.
Growing up in Detroit and being interested in baseball, the best thing I actually witnessed happening was Tram getting his 2,000th career hit at Tiger Stadium in 1992. (The 1984 World Series would've been better, but I was only eight years old at the time and was stuck watching it on TV.)
Career batting statistics:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB K BA OBP SLG TB
2293 8288 1231 2365 412 55 185 1003 236 109 850 874 .285 .352 .415 3442
As a coach
After five quiet years in retirement, Alan was hired by the San Diego Padres as their first base coach. He spent the 2002 season in that capacity. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about Tram's time as a coach, though the Padres finished last in their division that year under manager Bruce Bochy.
In 2007, he was hired by the Chicago Cubs to fill their vacant bench coach position behind manager Lou Piniella; he retained that position after Pinella's retirement in August 2010, then left the Cubs after the season to become the Arizona Diamondbacks' bench coach, under Diamondbacks manager and former teammate Kirk Gibson.
As a manager
The Detroit Tigers had been a mediocre team for a long time by the end of the 2002 season. The team's upper management, in an effort to boost annual attendance and endear themselves to baseball fans in the Detroit area again, announced on October 9, 2002, that they were hiring Alan Trammell as the team's new manager. Tram, still beloved by Tigers fans, accepted the job with fresh optimism and hope for the future. He assembled a coaching staff made up partly of members of Detroit's 1984 World Series team, including fan favorites Lance Parrish as bullpen coach and Kirk Gibson as bench coach (though he eventually swapped positions with hitting coach Bruce Fields). Amusingly enough, a guy named Bob Cluck was named pitching coach.
Ah, but the best laid plans... The Tigers ended up setting an American League record in 2003 for the most losses ever accrued in a single season. They dropped 119 games en route to a 43-119 record, beating the previous losses record, set by the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics, by two. Tram's hair grayed noticeably over the course of the season. Granted, he really didn't have any talent to work with. Most of the 2003 team consisted of untested rookies that had been rushed through the minor leagues like Jeremy Bonderman, washed-up veterans like Bobby Higginson, and overrated former #1 prospects like Carlos Peña.
After the morass that the 2003 season turned out to be, Tram and the Tigers' management sat down during the off-season and decided to dump a lot of the players that had not produced significantly the previous season, to go out and sign some quality free agents, and to make some trades. The result was pleasing, as the 2004 Tigers lineup included at least a couple of All-Star players and for most of the season, and the team lingered at around the .500 mark before a nose-dive in the second half. That in itself is remarkable as the team hadn't previously been anywhere near the .500 mark since the first month of the 2000 season. The Tigers finished 72-91 in 2004, a 29-game improvement over the 2003 season. The 2005 season was virtually a carbon copy of the 2004 season, with a record of 71-92.
Trammell was fired the day after the 2005 regular season ended. His replacement is two-time NL Manager of the Year and 1997 World Series winner Jim Leyland.
As an executive
Following the 2014 season, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and his coaching staff was fired. Trammell had been the bench coach. Instead of looking for another coaching or managerial gig, Trammell was hired by the Tigers to become a special assistant to team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski.
MLB Hall of Fame
Trammell, along with his contemporary teammate Jack Morris, were elected by the players' committee to the Hall of Fame in late 2017, with the induction ceremonies to be held in the summer. Both Trammell and Morris slipped off the BBWAA ballot after failing to achieve a 75% majority of votes for each of their 15 years on the ballot. Morris' entry into the Hall of Fame has a long, controversial history to it due to the use of modern analytics and new statistics that didn't exist when he played, but were applied to his career numbers long after his retirement from baseball. Trammell was basically an identical case for Hall of Fame induction. Because he played in an era full-to-bursting with outstanding shortstops, he was often overlooked when identifying the star shortstops of his era. It was, however, long-expected that the players' committee would get Trammell and Morris into the Hall of Fame if the BBWAA didn't induct them, and that's exactly what happened.