(CBS News) Detroit Tigers' third baseman Miguel Cabrera made history on Wednesday night in Kansas City, baseball's last day of regular season play. Cabrera led the American League in three statistical categories: home runs, runs batted in and batting average - the Triple Crown.
By accomplishing a feat for the first time in 45 years, Cabrera now takes his place alongside some of the greatest names in baseball history.
He could've sat out the last game since he already had the Triple Crown locked up. But 29-year-old Cabrera chose to play anyway Thursday night and soaked in the fans' appreciation for his rare achievement -- even in Kansas City, and they were cheering.
Cabrera was just 16 years old when the he was signed by a major league franchise. Cabrera, from Venezuela, earned his place in the history books with 44 home runs, 139 RBIs, and a batting average of .330.
He joins a who's who of baseball greats including Triple Crown winners Ted Williams, Lou Gherig, and Mickey Mantle. But maybe more impressive is the list of those who never did do it.
Ted Keith, editor of Sports Illustrated, said, "This is the historic achievement that not just Miguel Cabrera has been chasing, guys like Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds -- you take a look at any of the great baseball players of the last 45 years. Hank Aaron never did this."
Boston's Carl Yastrzemski was the last to achieve the Triple Crown in 1967 when the Red Sox won the American League Pennant, which overshadowed Yastrzemski's accomplishment.
"I didn't know I won the Triple Crown until the next day when we read it in the paper," Yastrzemski recalled. "That's how involved we were in the Pennant race."
Keith thinks the same thing might be happening to Cabrera, overshadowed by two tight American League division races that came down to the last day of the regular season.
Keith said, "There's been a little bit in the softening in the coverage of this because people are so concerned with the various Pennant races and in that sense baseball may be shooting itself in the foot a little bit. This is the kind of historic achievement that baseball is typically all over."
Something else that may be working against Cabrera in generating glowing coverage of this historic achievement is a 2009 domestic incident with his wife, and then a DUI arrest in 2011.