Day 27 without sports ⚾: Who is the face of each American League franchise?

The sports world lost one of its all-time greats on Monday with the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Al Kaline at age 85.

Kaline spent his entire 22-year MLB career as a member of the Detroit Tigers, winning 10 Gold Gloves, one World Series ring, one AL batting title and making 18 All-Star appearances. He was a fixture at Tigers games, even working after his retirement as a special assistant in the front office. No wonder he was known as “Mr. Tiger.”

That got us to thinking … If Al Kaline was unquestionably the face of the Detroit Tigers, who should be considered the face of the other MLB franchises? 

To keep this post from going on forever, we’ll just limit our choices today to the teams in the American League. We’ll base our choices primarily on accomplishments, popularity and longevity. Bonus points for spending an entire career with the same franchise.

Cal Ripken, Jr., right, shakes hands with Derek Jeter tossing out the first pitch Sept. 30, 2001, in Ripken's last career game at Yankee Stadium.

(Feel free to tell us how we messed up by tweeting us @USATODAYSports)

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles: Cal Ripken Jr.

Boston Red Sox: Ted Williams

New York Yankees: Derek Jeter (Sorry, Babe)

Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria

Toronto Blue Jays: Dave Stieb

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox: Frank Thomas

Cleveland Indians: Bob Feller (Sorry, Jim Thome)

Detroit Tigers: Al Kaline

Kansas City Royals: George Brett

Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer (tough call over Kirby Puckett)

AL WEST

Houston Astros: Jeff Bagwell

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout

Oakland A’s: Rickey Henderson

Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr. 

Texas Rangers: Ivan Rodriguez (even though he won a ring in Florida)

So this was fun. Maybe we’ll hit the National League another day. Looks like we’ll have plenty of time on our hands …

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Sports video of the day

One of the reasons we love sports is for the iconic moments that remind us of just how great the athletes are. So while we’re talkin’ baseball, let’s go back to the final home game for one of our franchise faces, Derek Jeter, on Sept. 25, 2014.

What to watch

MLB

At 7 p.m. ET, ESPN will rebroadcast Cal Ripken Jr.’s record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game as the Baltimore Orioles hosted the Los Angeles Angels on Sept. 6, 1995. But it comes with a twist, as our Bob Nightengale reported. Ripken and play-by-play announcer Chris Berman will offer their recollections on a digital pregame show. And Ripken will appear on ESPN’s social media platforms again in the middle of the fifth inning to discuss the magic moment the game became official. 

MLB Network will celebrate the Detroit Tigers’ World Series title in 1984 with rebroadcasts of Game 1 at noon ET, Game 4 at 2 p.m. ET and Game 5 at 4 p.m. ET. (You’ll see that Jack Morris guy popping up again in the postseason …) Game 1 gets an encore showing at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Then at 8 p.m. ET, catch the “Seventh Inning” of Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentary series, “Baseball.”

NFL

Atlanta Falcons fans may want to avert their eyes (or cut out after the first half) as NFL Network replays Super Bowl LI between the Falcons and the New England Patriots at 9 p.m. ET.

NHL

NBC Sports Network has its Hockey Happy Hour at 5 p.m. ET with the double-overtime Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ opening round between the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals. 

NHL Network will have the 2019 All-Star Skills Competition at 8 p.m., followed by the 2019 NHL All-Star Game at 11 p.m. ET.

NBA

NBA TV will air Kevin Durant’s spectacular 43-point performance in the Golden State Warriors’ victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Finals. That one tips off at 3 p.m. ET.

Then at 8 p.m. ET, catch the Jan. 16, 1993 game between the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic in which Michael Jordan scored 64 points, but it wasn’t enough.

Auto racing

NBC Sports Network will have a rebroadcast of the 2018 Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 8 p.m. ET.

Boxing

It’s fight night on ESPN2, with replays of several classic bouts on the card. 

  • 7 p.m. ET: Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman
  • 8 p.m. ET: Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III
  • 10:30 p.m. ET: Mike Tyson vs. Trevor Berbick
  • 11 p.m. ET: Mike Tyson vs. Larry Holmes
  • 11:30 p.m. ET: Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks

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MR. TIGER: Detroit mourns the death of its greatest baseball player, Al Kaline, at 85

April 7 in sports history

1951: Ben Hogan wins the first of his two green jackets, defeating Skee Riegel by two shots at The Masters.

1969: Legendary slugger Ted Williams begins his managerial career with the Washington Senators by losing 8-4 to the New York Yankees

1984: Jack Morris tosses a no-hitter as the Detroit Tigers blank the Chicago White Sox 4-0.

1995: The Major League Baseball season begins a week late after the players and owners finally settle the labor dispute that wiped out the 1994 World Series.

2003: Carmelo Anthony leads the way as Syracuse wins the NCAA Tournament title with an 81-78 victory over Kansas.

2019: Baylor wins the NCAA Women’s Basketball championship with an 82-81 victory over Notre Dame as point guard Chloe Jackson pours in 26 points.

Games we’re missing

MLB

  • Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
  • Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees 
  • Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals
  • Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox
  • Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds
  • Toronto Blue Jays at Philadelphia Phillies
  • Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox
  • San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves
  • New York Mets at Houston Astros
  • Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals
  • Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals
  • Texas Rangers at Colorado Rockies
  • Oakland A’s at Los Angeles Angels
  • Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants

NBA

  • Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards
  • Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers
  • Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat
  • Detroit Pistons at Atlanta Hawks
  • Charlotte Hornets at New Orleans Pelicans
  • Brooklyn Nets at Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Phoenix Suns at Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks
  • Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs
  • Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets
  • Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
  • Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz
  • Cleveland Cavaliers at Portland Trailblazers

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Steve Gardner on Twitter: @SteveAGardner

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