Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The DNR 25: #18 Tom Brookens
Thomas Dale Brookens
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania
1975, First Round (4th pick), Detroit Tigers
.246 Avg, 71 HR, 431 RBI, .663 OPS, 82 OPS+
1980: 6th in triples (9)
1985: 9th in doubles (34)
Best Tiger Season
Being a light-hitting utility player and specializing in defense for most of his career, it’s hard to figure out a “best” season for Brookens. But I’m going to go with 1980 over 1987 for Tommy. He hit .275 in his first full MLB season, with 10 homers and 66 RBI. His .734 OPS was the highest of his career, and he also hit 25 doubles and 9 triples in 151 games.
Little Known Fact
Tom’s twin brother, Tim, and his cousin, Ike, were also ballplayers. Tim was drafted in 1975 by Texas, and was later traded to Detroit. He never played in the majors. Ike pitched for Detroit in 1975.
Reason For Being On The List
Tommy Brookens was the first baseball player that made me think about defense as a young kid. Much like most fat, untalented, slob children, I was put at catcher in hopes that I’d block a few balls and not hurt the team in the field. But seeing Tom dive all over the place and make, to my 8 year old eyes, amazing catches, I decided to work hard on playing defense, practicing every day in my back yard. I actually turned into a decent fielding first and third baseman over time. I give credit for that to watching Tom.
He was a lot like Brandon Inge is today in the field. He made his share of errors (leading the AL in ’80 and ’85), but many of them were because he was covering so much ground out there and getting to balls that most people wouldn’t. He played 1065 games at third, 162 at second, and 119 at shortstop over his career. He even caught five innings in a memorable game in 1985.
His finest game as a pro was on 8/20/80 against Milwaukee where he went 5-5 with a triple and home run. Tommy also started a triple play in that game. I doubt anyone else in baseball history has ever had a game like that.
Oh, and he had the coolest mustache in baseball history. Eat crap, Rollie Fingers.
What Happened To Him?
On 3/23/89, Brookens was traded to the New York Yankees for forgettable pitcher, Charles Hudson. (Why do we trade everyone to New York?) After 66 games there, he signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Racist Logos, playing in 64 more games before retiring after the 1990 season.
In 2005 and 2006, Tom was the manager of the Oneonta Tigers, followed in 2007 by managing the West Michigan Whitecaps, both A ball Tiger teams. He led the Whitecaps to the championship that season, earning a promotion to the AA Erie SeaWolves in 2008. This season, he’ll be replacing Andy Van Slyke as the first base coach of the Tigers.
And he still has that sweet mustache.
Info ripped off of baseball-reference.com and Wikipedia.
Pics via Google.