By: Jeff Riger
The baseball world is about to lose a legend! Chipper Jones, playing in his 19th season all with the Braves just wrapped up his last regular season game at Turner Field in front of the Atlanta faithful on Sunday. The good thing for Jones is that the Braves have qualified for the playoffs so he will get at least one more game in front of the home fans, but Sunday had to be special.
Jones is a guaranteed first ballot hall of famer once eligible with his .303 lifetime average, 2,725 hits, 468 homers and an impressive .930 OPS as well. In fact Chipper has been so good that some consider him sports “All Time Longevity Man.”
Let me explain…
“Sports All Time Longevity Man” is a mythical title that I just made up for this blog that goes to the one athlete that has the most success over the course of his career all while playing for the same team and Jones has to be in the running. Derek Jeter, Magic Johnson, Mickey Mantle, Kobe Bryant, Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken Jr. and Mario Lemieux all fit the description as well.
But who cares about that national stuff?
Who is “Detroit’s All Time Longevity Man?”
There are so many qualified candidates that I have decided to put together my top 6 list for “Detroit’s All Time Longevity Man.” Before we get started, the criteria are simple! I looked for titles, individual greatness and length of years that the athletes were in Detroit. I did not give bonus points to those athletes that stayed with the organization once they were finished playing.
6. Jason Hanson
I struggled with the decision to even put the kicker on the list. Sure Hanson has been clutch, dependable and been through all the losing that we fans have been through but he is also a kicker; and what does it say about an organization where the kicker takes home this amazing honor? Sure there have been no titles but I think we have to consider the source plus I wanted the Lions to have representation in the top 6. I was going to put Barry Sanders on the list however I took away points for the way he decided to retire with not even a full days notice.
Plus Hanson is worthy! He has been a Lion for 21 seasons and has been to numerous pro bowls as well. He also set many NFL records as shown below.
- Most field goals of 50 or more yards (total) – 50
- Most field goals of 50 or more yards in a season – 8 (tied with Morten Andersen)
- Became the second player in league history (after Jason Elam) to score 200+ points against 3 different teams (Packers, Bears, Vikings)
- Most career games with one NFL team (312 as of September 9, 2012)
- Most career seasons with one NFL team (21).
- On December 18, 2011, became the first player in NFL history to score 2,000 points with one franchise.
5. Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammel
It’s only right to put these guys on the list as a pair considering how they went about playing for so many years for the Tigers. “Tram and Lou,” as fans called them for years were the best double play combination in the history of the game. Name me a better one! Go ahead! You can’t!
The duo played for a combined 39 years while producing 4,734 hits, 2,087 RBI, 429 homers in 4,683 games. They turned over 13 hundred double plays together!
“Tram and Lou” of course won a title in ’84 and it should be only a matter of time before the Tigers honor the duo with a statue of them next to the rest in left-centerfield. They should both be in the hall of fame but I won’t hold my breath.
I’m not counting Trammel’s time managing the Tigers against him.
4. Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas
Just like “Tram and Lou” I have to put Joe and Zeke together as well. Both guys won a combined four titles and did it in the NBA’s most competitive era. “Joe and Zeke” played a combined 27 years in the association together and was thought of as one of the most dangerous and great back courts in the game. The reason why I put the two together is because each one was so integral to winning back to back titles. Zeke was the leader that would never be denied while Dumars could shut down the other team’s best players when it most mattered and could fill a stat sheet offensively as well.
Some of my fondest memories came from those “Bad Boys” teams and it was always Joe and Zeke at the helm leading the way. Just like I’m not holding Trammell’s managerial record against him on the list I also am not giving bonus points to Dumars for being the GM when the Pistons won another title in 2004.
3. Steve Yzerman
I don’t think an explanation is even needed for this one. Yzerman came to Detroit and turned around a franchise and won 3 cups in the process. The Captain is almost solely responsible for Detroiters even caring about hockey. Everybody has a different favorite memory of Yzerman and everybody holds a special place in their heart for the number 19.
It’s ironic that when Yzerman retired after the 2006 season he was still the team’s best forward!
2. Al Kaline
“Mr. Tiger” they call him and he deserves all the praise and then some for what he accomplished in a Tigers uniform. Kaline finished his 22 season career with a .297 average, 399 homers and 3.007 hits. He won a title in ’68, he was an 18 time All Star and he is the only member of this list that resides in the baseball hall of fame.
Kaline NEVER played in the minors! That statement speaks volumes alone.
1. Nick Lidstrom
GREATEST DEFENSEMAN EVER TO PLAY THE GAME PLUS FOUR CUPS!
Future “Longevity Men” candidates are Justin Verlander, Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Greg Monroe, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Brandon Knight.
So who did I leave off the list? Did I get the top 6 right? Let me know!