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Jim Northrup – 1973 Topps #168

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ImageJames Thomas Northrup (November 24, 1939 – June 8, 2011), nicknamed the “Silver Fox” due to his prematurely graying hair, was a Major League Baseball outfielder and left-handed batter who played for the Detroit Tigers (1964–1974), Montreal Expos (1974) and Baltimore Orioles (1974–75).
Northrup had another solid season for the Tigers in 1969, as he raised his batting average to .295 (9th in the AL) and had career highs with 25 home runs and 31 doubles (6th in the AL). On August 28, 1969, Northrup became the first Tiger since Ty Cobb to hit 6-for-6, finishing the game with a 13th-inning game-winning home run over the Tiger Stadium roof. In 1970, the Tigers dropped to 4th place in their last season under manager Mayo Smith. The Tigers were an aging squad when Billy Martin took over, and Martin sought to light a fire under them. Martin turned the Tigers back into contenders in 1971 and 1972.
In the decisive 5th game of the 1972 American League Championship Series, the mutual dislike between Martin and Northrup may have affected Martin’s judgment. In the 9th inning, the Tigers were trailing 2-1, and Norm Cash was on base. Northrup had one hit already off Vida Blue, but Martin used Mickey Stanley to pinch-hit for Northrup. Stanley hit into a fielder’s choice, and the Tigers lost the ALCS. Northrup remained bitter about Martin’s decision.
In 1973, a 33-year-old Northrup hit .307 –- Imagethe highest batting average of his career. Despite his solid hitting, Martin kept Northup on the bench for part of the year. Northrup had played in at least 130 games for the Tigers for 7 straight years, but in 1973 he played in only 119 games. Martin was fired by the Tigers before the 1973 season was over, but Northrup’s time with the Tigers was also nearing an end.
Northrup died on June 8, 2011 from a seizure. Longtime friend Bill Wischman said Northrup had been recently admitted to an assisted living facility in Holly, Michigan, 20 miles from his home in Highland. Northrup had been in poor health for some time and had been at the home for about a month because of Alzheimer’s disease.


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