Ron LeFlore

Ron LeFlore first played baseball while serving a 5-to-15-year sentence for armed robbery. The native of Detroit, who first claimed to have been born in 1952, then 1950, and finally admitted to 1948, was discovered when Tiger manager Billy Martin visited Jackson State Prison. Signed to a contract in July 1973, he made the majors a year later and was made Detroit’s regular centerfielder by manager Ralph Houk to take advantage of LeFlore’s blinding speed. Possibly the fastest man in baseball during his prime, he hit .316 with 93 runs and 58 stolen bases in 1976 despite a season-halting leg injury late in the year. He had a 30-game hitting streak, the longest in the AL in 27 years. He added power with 16 HR in 1977 and was the first Tiger since Al Kaline, 22 years earlier, to get more than 200 hits. LeFlore also led AL right-handed batters with a .325 average after a slow start that saw him hitting .230 at the end of May. His life story was published in Breakout, later made into the movie One in a Million.

In his best season, 1978, he led the AL with 126 runs and 68 stolen bases, had a career-high 62 RBI despite being a leadoff batter, and hit in 27 straight games. After reaching a new personal high of 78 steals in 1979, also hitting .300 with 100 runs scored, he was sent to Montreal in a salary dispute. He led the NL with 97 steals but dropped to .257 with four HR. He retired after two part-time seasons with the White Sox.