Few players manage to forge a long career in the big leagues while never being a regular position player, but Dave Bergman did it because he was an excellent defensive first baseman and a consummate professional. Bergman was a manager’s dream: he could play a few positions, he was a solid left-handed bat off the bench, he never complained about his playing time, and he was always ready to play.
Bergman’s career really took off when he was included in a multi-player trade that sent him from Philadelphia to Detroit just prior to the start of the 1984 season. The veteran role player was a perfect fit for Sparky Anderson, who loved the versatility and leadership Bergman provided. In a game against the Blue Jays in June, Bergman fouled off several pitches in a 14-pitch at-bat before launching a home run into the upper deck at Tiger Stadium to give his team a walkoff victory. The moment is known by Detroit fans as simply “The At-Bat.”
After his career, Bergman stayed in Detroit as a successful financial adviser and he also stayed in the game as a private hitting instructor. Bergman loved the game of baseball and gave back to it as much as he could, helping former teammates with charitable events up until his death in 2014.