Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera has become the 15th player and the first in 45 years to win baseball’s Triple Crown, joining an elite list that includes Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.
The Detroit Tigers slugger’s milestone became official on Wednesday, the final day of the regular season, when Curtis Granderson – the only man who could challenge Cabrera’s homer tally – was removed from the New York Yankees’ game against the Boston Red Sox.
By that time, Cabrera -who also was removed early from Detroit’s game – was inside the visitors’ clubhouse at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, with only a select few sharing with him the moment he clinched one of baseball’s most storied feats.
“Everybody said to me it was unbelievable,” Cabrera said. “They were excited to see this, enjoy this, be a part of something big.”
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” he said. “I can’t describe the feeling right now.”
The Triple Crown is a rare feat of a batter leading his league in batting average, homers and runs batted in (RBIs). Cabrera topped the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs, becoming the first Triple Crown winner in the major leagues since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Cabrera went 0 for 2 against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday before leaving in the fourth inning to a standing ovation. He finished the regular season with a four-points-better average than the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, his biggest competition for MVP. Cabrera was the runaway leader with 139 RBIs.
“It was hard the last two days because everybody talked about it. I just had to focus, I had to go out there and do the job,” Cabrera said. “The hardest part was to go out there and focus and win games. I said, ‘If we win the division, everything would take care of itself.'”
Yastrzemski also stressed the importance of team success in a statement he issued on Wednesday, after finally handing over the title of ‘last man to win the Triple Crown’.