Tigers’ Horton, EMU’s Oestrike lauded
By Larry Hook
The Lookout Advise
Detroit Tigers legend Willie Horton and long-time Eastern Michigan University baseball coach Ron Oestrike were inducted into the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 17.
The ceremony took place at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing, home of both the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame and the Lansing Lugnuts. The presentation took place between the second and third innings of a game between the Lugnuts and the Dayton Dragons.
Plaques honoring the new inductees were unveiled beyond the outfield area of the stadium in left-centerfield. Fred Heumann, sports anchor for WLNS channel 6 of Lansing, served as emcee for the ceremony.
Willie Horton, who hit 325 homers and had 1,993 hits during his playing career, was unable to attend the ceremony due to commitments to the Detroit Tigers. The 76-year-old Horton has been a special assistant to the president of the Tigers since 2003.
A Detroit native, Horton played 1,515 of his 2,028 Major League games as a Tiger.
Horton was represented at the ceremony by his oldest son, Deryl, among other family members.
“This is a great honor,” Deryl Horton said during the ceremony. “On behalf of my dad … we just want to say thank you to the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame, and thank you to this beautiful city of Lansing and the state of Michigan.”
Mainly a leftfielder, Horton was a vital cog in the Tigers’ 1968 World Championship. He hit 36 homers to lead the team that season. In the 1968 World Series, he hit .304. He also threw out Lou Brock at home plate in a tide-turning play in Game 5 of that series.
Ron Oestrike, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 82, was represented at the ceremony by several family members, friends and former EMU players.
Oestrike lettered in baseball and football at Eastern Michigan, graduating in 1954. He coached the EMU baseball team from 1965 to 1987, posting a 657-508-8 career record and winning four MAC championships. His 1970 team won the NAIA national championship.
During his 23 seasons, Oestrike coached many players who later played in the Major Leagues, including Bryan Clutterbuck, Glenn Gulliver, Chris Hoiles, Pat Sheridan and Bob Welch.
The Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame is in its fifth year of existence. The new members join the 16 others inducted since 2015: Jim Abbott, Bill Freehan, Charlie Gehringer, Ernie Harwell, Al Kaline, Hal Newhouser, Alan Trammell, John Smoltz, Pat O’Keefe, Larry Tuttle, Kirk Gibson, Ty Cobb, Derek Jeter, Dave Keilitz, the 2003-2006 Homer High School baseball team and the 1959 Hamtramck Little League team.
Biographies, accomplishments and photos of the inductees can be found on the Michigan Hall of Fame website at www.michiganbaseballhall.org.