|.||.||.||WHERE ARE THEY NOW
By Karen Schweitzer
May 25, 2005
They called him "Willie the Wonder," and for
And the feeling was mutual. It wasn’t long before Horton was a fan favorite and one of Detroit’s key players, particularly on the ‘68 team. In Game Five of the Series, Lou Brock of the Cardinals failed to slide into home and was gunned down by Horton's throw from left field.
The assist helped turn the series in the Tigers favor, and Horton still counts it as the most memorable moment in his career. “Being voted Player of the Year was memorable, but that throw always stands out in my mind.”
Another event from that period which Horton keenly recalls is the 1967 Detroit riots. He left Tiger Stadium after a ball game, still in uniform, in an attempt to help quell the chaos of his city. Bravely standing in the midst of the violence, he unsuccessfully pleaded with the rioters to calm down. The city burned for five days.
After leaving Detroit, Horton played with Texas, Cleveland, Oakland, Toronto and the Seattle Mariners, where he spent his final two seasons of ’79 and ’80.
Since retirement, he has worked behind the scenes with the A’s, White Sox, Yankees, and of course, the Tigers. Horton returned to the Detroit organization in 2000, along with Hall of Famer and former teammate, Al Kaline. At the request of the Tigers owner, both became members of a committee which had been established to plan for the future of the franchise.
“Mike Illitch hired me and Kaline. We came aboard to help get the organization turned around, and to promote a good image from within.”
In 2002, Horton was named special assistant to team president, Dave Dombrowski. Still holding this position today, he frequently travels throughout the Tigers minor league organization, looking closely at players and offering advice.
“I spend a lot of time in Lakeland, but I travel
around everywhere. I enjoy working with the younger players. These
guys are away from home and sometimes they just need someone to talk
to, a friendly ear…somebody to put an arm around them.”
“I enjoy being around people. I probably get that from my parents. Especially my Mom. Even with all us kids, she was always bringing someone else home. Helping people.”
Considered a hometown hero to many, Horton divides
his time between the Tigers and the Detroit community. In honor of
Horton’s charitable and humanitarian contributions, Michigan
Governor Jennifer Granholm recently proclaimed October 18 "Willie
A new book about Horton’s life was published in April, 2005, by Immortal Investments Publishing. “The People’s Champion: Willie Horton,” by Kevin Allen, with a forward by Al Kaline, is not available in stores. Get it www.williehorton.com.
|Copyright © 2005 by BaseballSavvy.com.|