DETROIT -- For the ninth consecutive year, the state of Michigan recognized Willie Horton Day, honoring the former Tigers great and Detroit high school legend on his birthday for his work both in the game and the community.
Horton, now a special assistant in the Tigers' front office, turned 70 years old on Thursday. His birthday was declared Willie Horton Day in the state in 2004 by a Michigan House bill signed by then-governor Jennifer Granholm.
Horton was born in Virginia, but his family moved to Detroit when he was nine. He became a baseball star in the city as a teenager and signed with the Tigers immediately out of Northwestern High School.
What followed was an 18-year Major League career that included 14 years with his hometown team, collecting 1,993 hits, 325 home runs and 1,163 RBIs in the big leagues.
Horton's No. 23 is retired and hangs on the brick wall beyond left field at Comerica Park.
In the community, Horton remains a major figure, working with Don Bosco Hall to host the Batting for Kids event at Comerica Park for kids to display their throwing, batting and baserunning skills on the field. Horton also sponsors a $5,000 scholarship for a deserving graduate each year from Northwestern High.