Tuesday’s Tiger: Wayne Krenchicki

  • Born: Sept. 17, 1954 in Trenton, N.J.
  • Bats: Left Throws: Right
  • Height: 6′ 1″ Weight: 180 lb.
  • Acquired: Traded by the Reds to the Tigers for Pat Underwood on June 30, 1983.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 1 (59 games in 1983)
  • Uniform Number: 15
  • Stats: .278 avg., 1 home run, 16 RBI

The summer of 1983 gave Tigers fans a glimpse of what was to come a year later: a young core of star players ready to move to the next level in the American League East. Detroit was in the race until September when the eventual World Series champion Orioles pulled away for good.

That season also introduced fans — ever-so briefly — to a role player with one of the best names in baseball history: Wayne Krenchicki.Krenchicki_Wayne

He came to the Tigers in a late-June trade with the Reds for once-promising lefty Pat Underwood. With Alan Trammell nursing injuries, the club needed some infield help.

As he always did with newly acquired players, manager Sparky Anderson put Krenchicki right to work, inserting him in the starting lineup against the Orioles and rookie Storm Davis.

On July 1, batting eighth in the lineup, Krenchicki went hitless in three at bats against Davis and the Tigers lost 9-5. He got his first Tigers hit two days later, a third-inning double off Tim Stoddard, in a 10-1 Tigers win.

In all, Krenchicki appeared in 59 games for the Tigers in 1983, seeing time at every infield position but played primarily at third. His time in Detroit was brief; in November that year, the Reds purchased his contract from the Tigers.

He finished his eight-year big-league career with the Reds and Expos, and retired after the 1986 season.

Blue Year’s Day

Growing up in suburban Detroit, watching the Rose Bowl in sunny and warm Pasadena on New Year’s Day — whether or not Michigan was in the game — always bummed me out.

Not only did it mean school was looming, it also made me realized how long it would be before we’d see both sun and warmth in southeastern Michigan. I’m pretty sure that’s when I knew I couldn’t live in a cold-weather climate when I grew up.

Today’s weather in Phoenix is sunny and 50, which is cold for us and about 10 degrees cooler than Pasadena. Still, just knowing that the coming week looks like this means that Blue Year’s Day now refers to the clear desert sky and not to the post-holiday doldrums of my youth.

PHX Weather Jan 1-6-2022

And here’s a glance at today’s sky:

Arizona Blue Sky

Tuesday’s Tiger: Champ Summers

  • Born: June 15, 1946 in Bremerton, Wash.
  • Died: October 11, 2012 in Ocala, Fla.
  • Acquired: Traded by the Reds to the Tigers for a player to be named later on May 25, 1979. The Tigers sent Sheldon Burnside to the Reds to complete the trade October 25, 1979.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 3 (1979-81)
  • Bats: Left Throws: Right
  • Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 205 lb.
  • Uniform Number: 24
  • Stats: .293 avg., 40 HR, 132 RBI, .896 OPS

Champ Summers was a fan favorite in Detroit and for good reason. He came to the Tigers as career underachiever — at least at the major-league level — in an under-the-radar trade roughly a week before they hired Sparky Anderson in 1979.

The year before, John Junior Summers was the Minor League Player of the Year for the Reds’ top farm club, Indianapolis of the American Association. He led the AA with a .368 average, 34 homers and 124 RBI.

Summers Champ

It was in the majors, though, where Summers struggled to out together a career — and it wasn’t from a lack of opportunities. After debuting with the A’s in 1974 — a team with a loaded outfield featuring Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Rick Monday and Bill North, among others — he spent two seasons with the Cubs (hitting only .217 with four home runs). Next up was parts of three seasons with the Reds … and a .199 average.

In 1979, Summers was hitting .200 with a single home run after 27 early-season games with the Reds. But on May 25, the Reds sent him to the Tigers and, at the age of 30, he began the best three seasons of his career.

That season he batted .313 with 20 home runs (14 solo) in 90 games and posted a .614 slugging percentage along with a 1.028 OPS. Anderson played Summers primarily in rightfield with a few DH assignments sprinkled in.

The Tigers rewarded him with a three-year contract near the end of the ’79 season. He told the UPI:

“I really enjoy it here. I really feel at home,” Summers said. “Sparky likes me and I like him.”


Summers approached the club recently the possibility of signing a contract for next season.

“I wanted to know so I could make plans for this winter,” he said. “After I signed, it was like a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I never felt wanted before.”

Tigers fans loved Summers and he continued to provide punch to a young lineup. In 1980, his numbers slipped ever-so slightly but they were solid: .297/17/60 with an OPS of .897.

His production dropped further in the strike-shortened season of 1981 when, at age 35, his average fell to .255 and his power numbers plummeted, too. Summers hit only three home runs and eight doubles in 64 games in what would be his final season in Detroit.

In March 1982 the Tigers dealt him to the Giants for first baseman Enos Cabell. Summers would struggle in his two seasons in San Francisco, posting a .231 average and four home runs. In ’83 he hit .136 in 29 games.

He was on the move again in December 1983 when the Giants traded him to division rival San Diego. Summers appeared in just 47 games for Dick Williams’ Padres and hit .185 with no home runs.

Summers career would end in the ballpark where he had his greatest success, albeit on the losing end of the 1984 World Series. His lone career World Series at bat came as a pinch hitter in game four at Tiger Stadium. Pinch hitting for Alan Wiggins with two out in the top of the eighth, Summers struck out swinging against Jack Morris.

The next day NBC showed him as he sat on the top step of the visitors dugout watching the Tigers celebrate their championship. I still wonder if they showed him because he was a former Tiger or because he looked so forlorn. Perhaps both.

At the age of 38, Champ Summers career had come to and end — just as he predicted in the 1979 UPI story announcing his Tigers contract:

“If think I can play five more years,” he said. “If Yaz can play ’til he’s 40, I can play ’til I’m 38. I take good care of myself.”

Tuesday’s Tiger: George Cappuzello

Many moons ago, back when I published a Detroit Tigers blog, frequently I would write about random Tigers players from my the 1970s and ’80 — my formative baseball years. I thought I’d blow the dust off them and post them here on Tuesdays.

George Cappuzello

  • Born: Jan. 15, 1954, in Youngstown, Ohio
  • Bats: Right Throws: Left
  • Height: 6′ 0″ Weight: 175 lb.
  • Acquired: Signed as a free agent on April 28, 1980.
  • Seasons in Detroit: 1 (1981)
  • Uniform Number: 41
  • Stats: 1-1, 3.48 ERA, 1 save

George Cappuzello, the man who allegedly was on an ice cream and doughnut diet during Spring Training in 1981, appeared in just 18 games that year for the Tigers.

Originally, Cappuzello was drafted by the Tigers in the 27th round of the 1972 amateur draft. He spent six seasons in the Tigers’ system before being traded with minor leaguer John Valle (minors) to the Reds for Jack Billingham on March 6, 1978. He returned to Detroit after being released by the Reds in April 1980.

After his March 1982 release from the Tigers, he appeared in 17 games for Astros, pitching in his final game on Aug. 5, 1982.

Anton Daniels’ Videos

One of my current favorite YouTube channels is the one created by Anton Daniels.

He’s a Detroiter, for now, and has posted several fascinating videos exploring some of Detroit’s most iconic, and neglected buildings — including the Pontiac Silverdome.

On St. Patrick’s Day he shot a video in downtown Detroit’s Greektown area, in which he just quietly walked around and captured the vibe.

Check out his Urban Exploration playlist. So good.