Auchter's Art: Finally, some news that (almost) all of us can be happy about

Dec 15, 2017

When I was a 20 year-old college student, I got a summer intern job at a GM foundry in Saginaw. I was a second shift supervisor. For the three months I was there I had various assignments and was responsible for anywhere between 8 and 16 workers. It was this type of job: Thankful for having the experience, thankful for never having it again.

Already the cards were stacked against me: I was a skinny kid with very little experience. Because of seniority rules, everybody was at least a dozen years older than me. Training for the job was pretty much "sink or swim." But my biggest problem was that I really didn't have much to do. After I got jobs set up and time sheets squared away, I basically just had to wait for something, anything, to happen.

After I figured out what some of the rules were, I noticed that a few workers would occasionally break them. I'd ask them not to do that. Some would say OK. Some would yell at me. (It wasn't any fun, but at least a little bit interesting.) A very few would go right ahead and continue breaking the rules. I was told I needed to "write them up." My boss or fellow supervisors didn't bother to tell me exactly how this worked, so I did the best I could.

Eventually I made it to the shop steward to introduce myself and tell him my intention. He looked me over, gave an annoyed sigh, and said, "Fine." He motioned me to follow him back to his office. On the way we passed a chalkboard where one of the testers who had a radio would write the score and current inning of the Tigers game. When we got to his office, I started talking about Detroit baseball and his mood brightened considerably.

We discussed many things Tigers, but settled on Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker and what a joy they were to watch. He appreciated Trammell's steadiness and efficiency. I marveled at how Whitaker could go deep in the hole at second to backhand a grounder then smoothly spin and flick the ball to first to beat the runner by a half-step. Then he explained to me that my efforts to write up anybody were really pointless and that I should be careful in challenging him. But if I felt it necessary, he'd help me with the paperwork.

So, yeah, I'm thrilled that Jack Morris and Alan Trammell are going to the Hall. I'm disappointed that Whitaker isn't (at least so far). But mostly I am happy to have learned at an early age that being on opposite sides of an issue doesn't mean it has to be unpleasant.