Daugherty passed away August 15, 2015 in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. He was 87. Speaking with Daugherty over a half-century after his debut, the memories of his lone plate appearance were still crystal clear.
“It was in Chicago, it was cold, and it was snowing,” Daugherty said in a 2008 interview. “They sent me up to pinch hit against Billy Pierce. He was quite a pitcher, a really good pitcher. I fouled a couple off and missed the third one. That was the extent of my major league career.”
He made the club out of spring training in 1951 after an injury to third baseman and future Hall of Famer George Kell created a need for depth in the infield. An Associated Press report on March 28, 1951 gave Rolfe’s scouting report on the newest member of the Tigers.
“Manger Red Rolfe said Daugherty is okay defensively, but is weak at the plate. He is being given a thorough trial now with Kell benched on account of a spike wound in his hand.”
Kell’s injury turned out to be less severe than expected and with Johnny Lipon firmly entrenched at shortstop; there was little room for Daugherty in the lineup. Right on the day rosters were set to be trimmed, the Tigers recalled knuckleball pitcher Marlin Stewart from Toledo, sending Daugherty to the minor leagues, effectively ending his major league career.
“I stayed with them for a month,” he said. “They took some of the rookies north with them and May 15th, was the cutoff date where they had to be down to a certain number. They sent the rookies out to the farm clubs. From there I went to Toledo.”
A World War II veteran, Daugherty served in the Army after playing football at Ohio State in 1945. After serving for a year-and-a-half, he signed with the Tigers before the start of the 1948 season. They brought him to major league spring training and the 20-year-old immediately turned heads.
“Look at him pick ‘em up out there,” manager Steve O’Neill said in a 1948 Owosso Argus-Press article. “He’s got ‘class’ written all over him.”
Unfortunately, Daugherty never lived up to those lofty expectations, as Rolfe proved to be correct in his assessment of his batting skills. He finished his minor league career in 1953 with a .230 lifetime average. After hanging up his cleats, Daugherty entered the coaching ranks, managing in the Tigers organization, as well as at the high school level in three different sports for over 30 years.
“When I quit playing my professional career I did some scouting for the Tigers and managed some teams in the rookie leagues,” he said. “I taught high school for 33 years coaching football, baseball, and basketball.”
His love for athletics was passed down to his children, with his son Mike forming a husband and wife coaching tandem, serving as the associate head women’s basketball coach at Washington State University with his wife June at the helm. Mike, who was an Ohio State alum, played professional basketball overseas.
“My oldest son and his wife have been coaching for 15 years,” he said. “They coach the women's basketball team at Washington State University in the Pac-10. They both played at Ohio State and both played overseas. She's the head coach and he's the assistant. They're doing quite well.”