A Great Manager

“We need to have preparation to win. A disciplined team will win more close games over a period of time.”
Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland

Jim Leyland has managed four Major League Baseball teams: the Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies and the Detroit Tigers. His 1997 Florida Marlins won the World Series and his 2006 Detroit Tigers won the American League Pennant.

Leyland is a three-time Manager of the Year and is one of seven men to manage pennant winners in both Major Leagues.

Leyland also guided the Pittsburgh Pirates to three straight National League East titles (1990-92).

Jim Leyland never played Major League Baseball. He was a catcher in the Tigers Minor League  system and after his playing days he managed in the Minor Leagues for the Tigers. In 1982, he got his first taste of the Major Leagues as a coach with the Chicago White Sox.  He became a Major League Manager in 1986 with the Pirates.

“We need to have preparation to win. A disciplined team will win more close games over a period of time.”

I first met Jim Leyland in 1979 when he managed the Evansville Triplets, the Detroit Tigers Triple-A team.

It did not take me long to realize that not only was Jim a great baseball man, but that he also possessed great people skills.

Tony LaRussa managed the Iowa Oaks that same year and he and Jim Leyland forged a very close friendship.

Leyland managed the Evansville Triplets for three seasons and his dream was to manage the Detroit Tigers.  He realized that Tigers manager Sparky Anderson might be at the helm for quite some time. In October of 1981, Tony LaRussa hired Jim as a coach with the Chicago White Sox. At a World Series party in New York shortly after his hiring, Leyland told me he was sad to be leaving the Tigers organization but excited about going to the Major Leagues for the first time.

Leyland got his first Major League managing job with the Pirates in 1986. In the 1990’s, whenever I would ask baseball people who was the best manager in the National League,  I would get the same answer: Jim Leyland.

I feel that you cannot judge a manager only by wins and losses. Great managers cannot win without talent. Poor managers can win with talent. It is all about getting the most out of your players.  Jim Leyland is a master at that and that is why I feel he should be a Hall of Famer.

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