This morning baseball began the process of saying farewell to one of it’s wittiest and most successful managers. Jim Leyland announced that he would be hanging up his dugout jacket now that the Detroit Tigers have been eliminated from the playoffs. In a classy and clever press conference, the one-time Colorado Rockies manager reminisced and teased the media that had riled him for so many years (or so it appears) with several comments:
All jokes aside, Leyland’s Hall of Fame career covered 22 seasons managing 4 different teams and compiling 1,769 wins (15th best all-time). He garnered 3 manager of the year awards and led teams to 6 division titles, 3 pennent titles and 1 memorable World Series victory in just 8 trips to the playoffs. That lone World Series title came with the Florida Marlins in 1997. The next year Leyland managed a remnant of the championship squad to only 54 wins after the ownership had cashed in and traded nearly all of their talent away. The next season, 1999, would be spent in Denver as the manager of the Colorado Rockies. Even though he led the Rockies to a semi-respectable 72-win season, Leyland believed he did not have what it took to manage a team like the Rockies and decided to step away from the game altogether. This abrupt departure definitely left and still leaves many Rockies fans wondering “what could have been”. When Leyland decided to return to baseball 7 years later, for the 2006 season, he quickly took the Tigers to the World Series showing the baseball world he still had that special touch.
Leyland only had one losing season with the Tigers (2008) and averaged 88 wins/season with the team. In those 22 years from the top step of the dugout, Leyland only had 10 losing seasons while managing a whopping 3499 games — a significant feat considering that he managed the Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, & Colorado Rockies. The 68-year old skipper did note that he would be taking another position within the organization, so the legend will no doubt carry on. In one of the classier moments of the press conference, Leyland stated that the decision to wait until Monday for an announcement was to allow the weekend to be about the Boston Red Sox winning the ALCS.
“The fuel’s getting a little low”, said Leyland. Here’s to hoping there’s a gas station nearby. If nothing else, we all know that he could moonwalk to it… Thanks Jim!