The Obit For Art Houtteman

Former Tigers whiz kid, Houtteman, dies

May 8, 2003


Art Houtteman, a Detroiter who pitched 12 years in the major leagues with the Tigers, Cleveland and Baltimore, died Tuesday, apparently from a heart attack, at his home in Rochester Hills. He was 75.

Houtteman, fresh out of Detroit Catholic Central, made his major league debut as a 17-year-old with the Tigers in 1945.

His best season was 1950, when he went 19-12 for the Tigers with a 3.54 ERA and was named an All-Star.

In 1951, he was drafted into the Army's 43rd Infantry Division. He returned to the Tigers in 1952.

Houtteman was traded to Cleveland in 1953 and appeared in the World Series a year later. He went 15-7 in 1954 in a rotation with Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Bob Feller and Mike Garcia.

"He was a good pitcher," said George Kell, a former teammate and Tigers Hall of Fame third baseman. "The thing I remember best about him wasn't one of his best moments."

Houtteman had a no-hitter going with two men out in the ninth in a game against Cleveland. Harry (Suitcase) Simpson came up to bat, and Kell had a conference with shortstop Johnny Lipon.

"I walked over to Johnny Lipon and said, 'If he hits it on the ground to either side of us, dive and get your glove on it and they'll give us an error,' " Kell said.

"He hit a line shot between us, but over our heads. I looked over at Art and he gave me a sheepish-looking grin.

"I wanted him to get it so bad. He could pitch for anybody. He threw a ball that moved a lot. He didn't throw as hard as Feller and some of those guys, but I bet he threw 90 (miles per hour), which in those days was pretty good."

Houtteman's major league career ended in 1957 with the Baltimore Orioles, though he played minor league baseball in Vancouver for a couple more years. His career record was 87-91 with a 4.14 ERA.

He returned to Michigan after his baseball career ended and worked for Paragon Steel. He preferred to watch baseball games on television than attend in person, but he joined other Tigers greats for the final game at Tiger Stadium in 1999.

He is survived by his wife, Shelagh; son Jeff; daughters Holly Niec and Sharon Wipperman, and six grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.