Dizzy Trout remains the greatest swing man in Tiger history. He started 322 games in his career and relieved in 199 others. He won 10 or more games seven straight seasons from 1942-1948. In 1949, he saw limited action, but produced one of the highlights of the season. On July 28, pitcher Steve Trout became a hitting star with a 9th inning grand slam to cap a Tiger rally and seal a 13-7 victory over the Washington Senators.
Trout entered his eleventh big league season in 1949. The year proved especially difficult as ineffectiveness plagued the Tiger star. The right hander appeared in only 33 games, went 3-6, and posted an inflated 4.40 ERA and 1.500 WHIP. At one point, Trout was an elite pitcher. He led the league in wins in 1943 and ERA, innings, and shutouts in 1944. Over his previous ten campaigns, Trout won 135 games including two 20 win seasons.
As Trout struggled, the Tigers finished in the middle of the pack with 87 wins. Few people mention the 1949 team, but there were highlights. George Kell hit .343, Vic Wertz knocked in 133 runs, and Newhouser, Trucks, Houtteman, and Hutchinson combined for 67 wins. Dizzy Trout seemed lost in the mix.
The fifth place Tigers traveled to Washington for a late July tilt against the Senators. Detroit entered the game with a 51-45 record while the woeful Senators were 35-56. Hal Newhouser toed the mound for the Tigers while Washington countered with Mickey Harris. Newhouser did not have it on that July day. He coughed up five earned runs in a little over five innings. For Washington, Eddie Yost scored on a passed ball in the first. Eddie Robinson's RBI single in the third made it 2-0. Luckily for Detroit, Harris did not pitch well either. The Tigers posted three in the fourth on a single by Don Kolloway, triple by George Kell, another triple by Vic Wertz, and a Johnny Groth sac fly. They added two more in the sixth for a 5-2 lead. Groth tripled in Kell and Hoot Evers doubled in Groth. However, Newhouser could not hold the lead. Washington tied it in the sixth with two runs. Trout replaced the starter after the Senators scored the equalizer.
The game entered the late innings tied at 5. Detroit did not score in the seventh, but the Senators did. Trout looked headed for defeat, but he had the good fortune of facing the Senators. Washington was famously for being "first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League." Detroit tied it in the eighth on Johnny Lipon's double.
The contest stood tied at 6 in the ninth when Tiger bats went to work against Joe Haynes. The first two batters flew out and lined out. Then, Haynes experienced an epic collapse. He hit Kell, surrendered a double to Wertz, walked Groth, walked Mullin to score Kell, and was replaced by Al Gettel. Gettel pitched no better than Haynes. Lipon walked in a run, pinch hitter Aaron Robinson walked in another, and then Trout came to bat.
Detroit led 9-6 after Washington's bullpen meltdown. As a result, Trout remained in the game to hit. He was known as a good hitter. Over his career, he hit .213 with 20 home runs. Only ten other pitchers have hit more long balls than Dizzy Trout. In 1944, he hit .271 with 5 home runs, 24 RBI, and .745 OPS. Five years later, he batted only 14 times and produced just two hits. On July 28, he produced one of those hits. Trout hit a grand slam to extend the Tiger lead to 13-7. It proved the highlight of a forgettable season for the pitcher. He surrendered a slop run in the ninth, but closed out the Senators for a 13-8 victory. For his efforts, the pitcher earned his third and final win of 1949.
Trout experienced a comeback in 1950 before struggling again in 1951 and 1952. Detroit shipped him to Boston where he finished his career. Overall, Trout finished 161-153 with a 3.20 ERA and two All Star appearances. He also hammered 20 home runs to help his cause. One of those homers helped seal a July 28, 1949 contest against the Senators. Trout is somewhat forgotten now, but at one point was the wartime equivalent of Max Scherzer. However, by 1949, Trout had entered the twilight of his career. The grand slam was one of the last moments in the sun for the Tiger great.