Fort Wayne Flashback: Matt Kinzer makes MLB debut after punting in the NFL

Local Sports

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – If you’re a Detroit sports fans then he is the answer to an interesting question, as Norwell grad Matt Kinzer is the only athlete to play for both the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Lions, making him the only “Detroit Liger” in the Motor City’s history.

Kinzer pitched three seasons at Purdue before being drafted in the second round of the 1984 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Kinzer was also a punter for the Boilermakers football team during his time in West Lafayette.

During the 1987 football season the NFL players went on strike from weeks four to six. Kinzer was signed by the Lions and punted seven times (for an average of 34.0 yards) in his only game against the Packers on October 11, a 19-13 overtime victory in Week 5 by the Lions.

A righty, Kinzer would make his MLB debut on May 18, 1989 in relief for Cardinals. He went on to pitch in eight games that season for the Cardinals with one start.

In the off-season he was traded to the Tigers along with outfielder Jim Lindeman for three minor leaguers (Pat Austin, Marcos Betances, and Bill Henderson). While he began the 1990 season in Triple-A Toledo, Kinzer made his Tigers debut on May 26, 1990 in relief.

It was his first and only appearance for Detroit – and the last game of his MLB career. After being released by Detroit in July of 1990 Kinzer signed with the Orioles, but his stay in their minor league system was brief.

Kinzer went into coaching, and was the head coach at IPFW for two seasons (1993 & 1994). In addition to coaching, he’s also served as a scout for a number of MLB franchises, and is current a scout for the Atlanta Braves.

His oldest son, Taylor, was also a two-sport standout. A right handed pitcher, Taylor was drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 34th round of the MLB draft as a senior at Homestead High School in 2006, but decided to play in college instead. He played both football and baseball and was picked in the 2009 draft in the 24th round by the Angels out of Taylor University.

Taylor was the third generation of Kinzers to play professional baseball, as his grandfather also played professionally.

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