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Mayor Interviews Tigers Championship Trainer

Mayor Kip Walby interviewed former Tigers trainer Pio DiSalvo for the April edition of the "Mayor's Corner."

Every month St. Clair Shores Mayor Kip Walby interviews a different elected official or department head within the city during his "Mayor's Corner" television show.

This month his guest is a Grosse Pointe Woods resident who frequents the and had a front-row seat to one of the the greatest baseball seasons in the history of the Detroit Tigers.

Pio DiSalvo, the retired Tigers trainer, sat down with the mayor—and later Patch —to talk baseball.

The 73-year-old Pennsylvania native had a close relationship with players, coaches and future coaches of the Tigers from the 1970s through today.

As a young athletic trainer, who learned his trade while serving in Germany with the Army, he met an equally youthful Jim Leyland who was then coaching in the Tigers minor league system.

Although they ended up going separate ways in baseball—Leyland ended up going to the White Sox and DiSalvo to Detroit—they have remained close.

With the high level of talent Leyland has this season in Detroit, DiSalvo has no doubt that he will be able to guide this team through the season. 

"Jim will handle it well," DiSalvo said.

During his tenure as trainer he tended to the well-being of the greats in Tigers history, including Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish and Prince Fielder's father, Cecil.

He also spent his entire major league career with one manager, Hall of Famer Spark Anderson.

"Sparky was fabulous ... he was great with players and he was great with (the fans)," he recalled. "He did not refuse anyone an autograph."

During that 1984 season, he had experienced two memorable moments at the bookends of the season.

At the start of the season, the Tigers were in Anaheim and a half inning from starting the season 35-5. This would be one of the best starts for a team in the history of baseball.

As the Tigers took the field in the bottom of the ninth with a lead as the visiting the team, Angels fans stood and cheered the Tigers.

"It was amazing," he recalled. "I'll never forget that."

The other was in the final game of the season, when the Tigers won the World Series over the San Diego Padres.

He vividly remembered the game of egos that played out in the bottom of the eighth inning as Padres pitcher Goose Gossage persuaded his manager to let him pitch to Kirk Gibson.

"Sparky was yelling in the dugout 'he doesn't want to walk you," DiSalvo.

Then Gossage pitched and Gibson launched the ball into the second deck of Tiger Stadium.

"History is history. He hit the heck out of that ball," said DiSalvo.

After being just steps from baseball history during his career, is DiSalvo a fixture at Comerica Park?

"I'm all done with that," admitted DiSalvo, who still keeps track of the team but only goes to a handful games annually.

To see the whole interview, watch the "Mayor's Corner" daily on Comcast, WOW and AT&T public access channels at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m.; Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. Tuesday-Sunday.

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