- Born: June 15, 1946 in Bremerton, Wash.
- Acquired: Traded by the Reds to the Tigers for a player to be named later on May 25, 1979. The Tigers sent Sheldon Burnside to the Reds to complete the trade October 25, 1979.
- Seasons in Detroit: 3 (1979-81)
- Bats: Left Throws: Right
- Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 205 lb.
- Uniform Number: 24
- Stats: .293 avg., 40 HR, 132 RBI, .896 OPS
Champ Summers was a fan favorite in Detroit and for good reason. He came to the Tigers as career underachiever — at least at the major-league level — in an under-the-radar trade roughly a week before they hired Sparky Anderson in 1979.
The year before, John Junior Summers was the Minor League Player of the Year for the Reds’ top farm club, Indianapolis of the American Association. He led the AA with a .368 average, 34 homers and 124 RBI.
It was in the majors, though, where Summers struggled to out together a career — and it wasn’t from a lack of opportunities. After debuting with the A’s in 1974 — a team with a loaded outfield featuring Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Rick Monday and Bill North, among others — he spent two seasons with the Cubs (hitting only .217 with four home runs). Next up was parts of three seasons with the Reds … and a .199 average.
In 1979, Summers was hitting .200 with a single home run after 27 early-season games with the Reds. But on May 25, the Reds sent him to the Tigers and, at the age of 30, he began the best three seasons of his career.