Baseball has been part of my life longer than I can remember, going back to the mid 1960's.
I remember some things, like playing catch and sandlot games, but as far as baseball on TV, I just don't remember watching games on TV until 1970, when I was in the hospital with a bad case of bronchitis.
I got to watch every single game...day games...of the series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Cincinnati Reds.
I never saw Sandy Koufax, or Bob Gibson, or Juan Marichal pitch.
I always felt like I missed out on something special.
Yes, I grew up watching some terrific pitchers like Mickey Lolich, Ferguson Jenkins, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, and Phi Niekro pitch in the 70's, but most of them were already well on their way by the time I started watching them pitch.
Every fifth day I make sure not to miss the best power pitcher in baseball, the best pitcher in the American League, Justin Verlander, take the mound for the Tigers, and watching history being made.
Justin Verlander first came to the Tigers as the club's #1 draft pick in 2005, the 2nd overall pick in the draft that year.
Justin pitched in college at Old Dominion University, and the Tigers made sure not to miss on the chance at the power arm that would one day bring their franchise back to respectability.
Verlander made two starts in 2005, and they were anything but memorable.
In those 2 starts, Verlander pitched 11.1 innings, giving up 15 hits, 9 runs, all earned, losing both games.
In 2006 Verlander started the season with the Tigers, pitching in 30 games as a rookie, tossing 186 innings, striking out 124 batters, ending the season with a record of 17-9, with a 3.36 ERA, winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award.
Those 17 wins were the start of something special in the Motor City.
Since 2006 Verlander has won at least 17 games in 5 of his 6 seasons, with a career high of 19 wins coming in 2009.
In 2007 Verlander tossed a no hitter at Comerica Park against the Milwaukee Brewers, and earlier this season he added to that no hitter with another one, this time in Toronto against the Blue Jays.
Following that no hitter against the Jays, five days later Verlander took a no-no into the 6th inning, and also took a no-no into the KC Royals in July.
Yesterday in Cleveland another milestone achievement.
The 4-3 win over the Tribe was anything but vintage Verlander, but the staff ace retired 13 of the final 15 Indians batters, struck out 10 batters, winning his 17th game of the season...there's that number again...and that win was also Verlander's 100th career win, in just his 190th career start.
Verlander is 17-5 this year, with a 2.35 ERA, 196 K's( leads MLB) in 195 innings, 4 complete games, 2 shutout's, he's walked just 41 batters, and his WHIP is a MLB best 0.87.
Verlander is the only active pitcher in baseball under the age of 30 with 100 wins.
I wrote earlier this summer about Verlander, and that we were watching something special, over at the Detroit Tigers Scorecard.
At age 51 I've seen many very good pitchers play for the Tigers, Denny McLain, Mark Fidrych, Joe Coleman, Dan Petry, Justin Thompson, to name a few.
I've also seen to pitcher wear the Olde English "D" that should be in the Hall of Fame, Mickey Lolich, and Jack Morris.
They are the standard bearers the past 40+ years for Tigers pitchers.
Justin Verlander is well on his way to moving past all of them.