Leyland with the Detroit Tigers in 2013
|Catcher / Coach / Manager|
|Born: December 15, 1944|
|Career highlights and awards|
James Richard Leyland (born December 15, 1944) is an American former professional baseball player, coach and manager. He serves as a special assistant to the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball (MLB).
Leyland led the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship in 1997, and previously won three straight division titles (1990, 1991, and 1992) with the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Tigers' victory in the 2006 American League Championship Series, Leyland became the seventh manager in history to win pennants in both the National and American Leagues. He is a three-time Manager of the Year Award winner, twice in the National League (1990 and 1992), and once in the American League (2006).
Leyland began his baseball career with the Tigers when they signed him as a catcher on September 21, 1963. He spent seven seasons as a minor leaguer in the Tigers organization (1964-1970), but mainly served as a coach with the Montgomery Rebels in 1970 while playing in just two games for the team. Leyland was a career .222 hitter in the minor leagues.
In 1972, Leyland became a minor league manager in the Tigers organization; beginning with the Clinton Pilots of the Midwest League; from 1979-1981, he was the manager of the Evansville Triplets winning two divisions (1979, 1981) in the American Association.
Leyland left the Tigers organization for the first time in 1982 when he became Tony La Russa's third base coach for four seasons (1982-85) with the Chicago White Sox, including the team's 1983 AL West division title, before being named the 33rd manager in Pittsburgh Pirates history on November 20, 1985.
Leyland was the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1986 to 1996. He won two Manager of the Year trophies with the Pirates in 1990 and 1992, and finished as runner-up in 1988 and 1991. Leyland helped develop such All-Stars as Barry Bonds, Jay Bell, Tim Wakefield, Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla in Pittsburgh before a fire sale in the mid-1990s soured him with new ownership. Under Leyland, the Pirates captured the National League Eastern Division title and went to the National League Championship Series in three straight seasons (1990, 1991, and 1992). Pittsburgh averaged 96 regular season victories those three years, but lost all three times in the NLCS with the latter two going the full seven games against the Atlanta Braves. The Pirates lost to the Cincinnati Reds (four games to two) in the 1990 NLCS.
Although he has moved on in his career, Leyland still keeps his home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Thornburg, Pennsylvania, where he has raised two children, Pat and Kellie with his wife Katie. Patrick was a minor league catcher-first baseman in the Detroit (2010-2014) and Seattle (2015) organizations.
In 1997, Leyland was hired by Wayne Huizenga to manage the Florida Marlins and promptly led them to the franchise's first World Championship that year, defeating the Cleveland Indians -- four games to three -- in the Fall Classic. The Marlins, in only their fifth year of existence, became the fastest expansion franchise to win a World Series. The Arizona Diamondbacks surpassed the Marlins when they won the World Series in 2001, their fourth season.
In the offseason, Huizenga dismantled the team in what became known as "the fire sale." After Game 7, when asked about rumors that he might retire if Huizenga sold the franchise, Leyland quipped, "My wife doesn't like me that much. I can't retire." Leyland indeed remained as the manager, but resigned after the 1998 season, when the Marlins went 54-108. At his press conference, Leyland remarked that he thought his job was to win championships, but that apparently was not what Huizenga wanted. Leyland was subsequently hired by the Colorado Rockies for the 1999 season, walking away from the final two years of his contract.
Following the release of Alan Trammell as the manager of the Tigers, Leyland was hired as new Tigers manager, returning to the franchise with which he spent the first 18 years of his professional baseball career. It marked the first time Leyland managed in the American League.
In the 2006 regular season, Leyland guided the Tigers to a 95-67 record, the Tigers best season since 1987. The Tigers entered the playoffs as a wild card, and went on to defeat the New York Yankees and sweep the Oakland Athletics to win the American League pennant before falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 World Series. In leading the team to the AL pennant, he became the seventh manager to win pennants in both major leagues, joining Joe McCarthy, Yogi Berra, Alvin Dark, Sparky Anderson, Dick Williams, and Tony La Russa. After the 2006 season ended, Leyland was recognized with the Manager of the Year award for the third time in his career. He became the third person to win the award in both leagues, joining La Russa and Bobby Cox. Leyland also won The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award for the American League in 2006.
In 2011, Leyland led the Tigers to another 95-67 regular season record, winning the American League Central Division. They went on to defeat the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series before losing to the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series.
On May 1, 2012, Leyland gained his 1,600th victory as a major league manager, passing Tommy Lasorda on the all-time wins list. In 2012, Leyland led the Tigers to an 88-74 regular season record, winning the American League Central Division. On that team, Tiger third baseman Miguel Cabrera was the American League Triple Crown winner that season. This was the first Triple Crown winner in Major League Baseball since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. When the Tigers won the AL Central for the second consecutive season, Leyland became the only Tigers manager besides Hughie Jennings to lead Detroit to the postseason three times.
In the 2012 postseason, Detroit defeated the Athletics in a five-game ALDS and returned to the World Series following a sweep of the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Detroit was swept in the 2012 World Series by the San Francisco Giants. They were shut out twice, the same number as in the entire 162-game regular season, and had a team batting average of .159.
On September 25, 2013, Leyland won his 700th game with the Tigers. With the 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins, the Tigers clinched their third consecutive American League Central Division title. Leyland joined former coach Tony La Russa as the only managers who have led two different MLB franchises to three consecutive division titles. He retired from managing following the 2013 season, remaining with the Tigers organization as a special assistant. He was replaced by Brad Ausmus.
On April 15, 2016, Leyland was named the manager of Team USA at the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The United States won the 2017 tournament under his leadership, making Leyland the only manager to win a World Series and a WBC title.
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His son, Pat Leyland, was drafted by the Tigers in 2010 and has also played in the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles organizations. On May 30, 2017, Jim Leyland was one of eight new inductees announced for the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in Detroit. The ceremony took place on September 15, 2017.