Friday, December 11, 2009
The DNR 25: #24 Dmitri Young
Dmitri Dell Young
None (Rio Mesa High School), Oxnard, CA
1991, 1st Round, St. Louis Cardinals
.292, 171 HR, 683 RBI, .351 OBP, .475 SLG, 114 OPS+
2003 & 2007 All Star
1998: 2nd in doubles (48)
Best Tiger Season
2003 was, without question, DY’s best season as a Tiger. He put up a 144 OPS+ that year, hitting .297, 29, 85, with a .909 OPS in 155 games. He was the Tigers lone All-Star in ’03 but never made it into the game because, as you know, only Red Sox and Yankees players are guaranteed to get into the All-Star Game. On May 6, 2003 (my birthday), Young went 5-5 with two homers, two triples, and a single. His second triple came in his last at bat in the game. When asked after the game why he didn’t stop at second to have the cycle to his credit, Dmitri responded that the outcome of the game was still in doubt and that the personal accomplishment had to take a back seat to the team. Awesome.
Little Known Fact
Dmitri’s father, Larry, was one of the Navy’s first African-American F-14 fighter pilots and is currently a pilot for Delta Airlines.
Reason For Being On The List
Dmitri was, plain and simple, a fun player to watch play the game. He was a big, lumbering dude when he played in Detroit at 6’2 and nearly 300 pounds. But you had to cheer when the big man would stroke one into the gap, take off running, flip off his helmet, and rumble into a base. Add in his cool flame tattoos on his arms that he’d show off when he hit a homer and Dmitri was just a guy that brought a smile to your face.
He was also a player that I saw spending a lot of time laughing with fans before games and signing autographs. Before Dmitri’s personal problems became public, he was awesome when it came to the fans, from what I saw at Comerica. He was also very popular with his teammates and was often seen being a cheerleader in the dugout for other guys.
People turned on him in 2006 when his life was crumbling at home. He missed a lot of time and struggled early in the season. I was there for his return on July 21st, and cheered him on while thousands of others booed, including my friend that went with me. I get so annoyed at Tiger fans when they turn on the players they used to cheer. At least I’m consistent with my dislike of the Nates, Cletes, and Rodneys of the world.
He was hitting under .200 upon his return. Dmitri came through, though, with two hits and a couple RBI’s that had everyone cheering for him again by the end of the game. When my buddy started cheering him again after the second hit, I slapped him in the face and called him a horrible name that I don’t recall.
Plus, DY had a cool afro. Let’s see Clete Thomas grow one of those.
What Happened To Him?
In 2006, Dmitri went through a divorce, was treated for alcohol and substance abuse, and depression. He also faced an assault charge against a young woman in Birmingham, MI. He was released on September 6, 2006 towards the end of the Tigers’ miracle season in a move that I hated. The day after Thanksgiving, he was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered that he had diabetes.
In 2007, Dmitri signed with the Washington Nationals. He would end up as the Nats’ only representative at the All-Star Game, hitting .340 in the first half. He would get into that game and single in his only at bat. (No Yanks or Sawx to worry about in the NL) At the end of the year, he received the Player’s Choice National League Comeback Player of the Year award.
In 2008, Dmitri lost his starting job back to Nick Johnson of the Nationals. His diabetes would start acting up and take him out for the season on September 17th. Then, in May 2009, he lost his mother to cancer after over a three month battle. He is currently a free agent and may be trying to come back once again, though it is doubtful due to his age and history of health problems.
Info ripped off of baseball-reference.com and Wikipedia.
Pics via Google.