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Jim Leyland: “it’s time … the fuel was starting to get low”

Oct 21, 2013, 11:49 AM EDT

The Tigers just held Jim Leyland’s press conference. The highlights:

Leyland said he wanted it to be clear that he was not at all forced out. It was all his idea. And the idea had been in his head for longer than many may have expected.

On September 7th, after the game against Kansas City, he met Dave Dombrowski for coffee and told Dombrowski that he was going to step down after the season. Dombrowski wanted him to stay, but Leyland said that “it was time” and that “the fuel was starting to get low.” No players were told. Dombrowski told only owner Mike Ilitch. Leyland told his wife, Tony La Russa and Gene Lamont, each of whose advice he took on the matter.  Leyland wanted to make the time frame of his decision — and the fact that only a couple of people knew — totally clear so that it could not be said that there was any sense on part of the players that they weren’t on the same page as he was. They had no idea that he was going to be gone.

MORE: Is Jim Leyland headed for Cooperstown?

He first informed his players Saturday night after the loss to Boston. There was first silence and then applause. He had nothing but good things to say about his players and reaffirmed, without hesitation, how he was proud of being thought of as a players’ manager throughout his career. He had nothing but the most glowing praise for owner Mike Illitch and Dave Dombrowski. For whom he will still be working, by the way, as Leyland announced that he will be accepting another position in the organization and said he “wanted to retire a Tiger.”

As anyone who has watched the Tigers closely knows, Leyland is an emotional man. He lasted longer in this press conference without crying than I figured he would. But about five minute in he thanked the people of the Tigers organization and then things got awfully misty. You just want to give the guy a hug.

MORE: Who replaces Leyland in Detroit?

Most of the questions/answers after his statements were what you’d expect. But one nugget did come out: Dave Dombrowski does not feel obligated to hire a guy with major league managing experience, saying he didn’t see the point in limiting available candidates.

Oh, and Leyland told a fart joke. Seriously. It had nothing to do with anything, but you can tell the guy is feeling good about his decision.


  1. blabidibla - Oct 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Class act. Loved him since the day he chewed out a young Barry Bonds in front of God and everyone with a camera.

    • polegojim - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      Wonderful and loyal man.

      That said, it was time and he knew it. He did the absolutely responsible thing.

      Time to pass the torch, while the Tigers still have good talent and hunger.

      • Kevin Gillman - Oct 21, 2013 at 6:42 PM

        Yeah, but there aren’t many managers that can do whart Jim did during this tenure. He’s one of the best managers in the game, and will be deeply missed.

      • polegojim - Oct 21, 2013 at 7:51 PM

        I don’t disagree… but it was still time to go NOW….

        You can’t live in the PAST… and Jim KNOWS that.

      • Kevin Gillman - Oct 21, 2013 at 7:54 PM

        Very true, as an Indians fan I am curious to see who they will go with.

    • veraarnold - Oct 21, 2013 at 10:20 PM

      Do you like acting as inhibited as you are at work in your own house, and having future work evaluations reflect how well you entertain as well as how well you do your job?
      Then by all means invite people from the office.
      you have to try at least once,
      I assure you will know the meaning of success…..

  2. sportsdrenched - Oct 21, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    I’ve always liked Leyland. Good for him on going out on his terms.

  3. indaburg - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Good luck, Mr. Leyland. He was an interesting fellow and will be missed.

    • cur68 - Oct 21, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      Yeah. One of my all time favourite managers. From telling off Bonds, to getting all up in the ump’s grill, or to just sneaking off for a smoke: he did it better than anyone else.

      He made me laugh.

  4. sanzarq - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    Goodbye to a great old PRO! He was a true player’s manager, he never micromanaged & consistently got results. He’s a WINNER & will be missed.

  5. waltrd - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    I’ve always admired Leyland. He knew the game of baseball. He was a great baseball manager, and a players’ manager too. He was a true professional. He’ll be missed on the diamond. I wish him the best in his new capacity with the Tigers. They are still fortunate to have him working with them.

    • gostlcards5 - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      Totally agree on all counts. Well said.

  6. wisbadgfan - Oct 21, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    I agree with a lot of the above posters——-Jim Leyland is a very classy man. He has always managed the right way—-a firm but fair man.

    He always respected his players and vice versa.

    He indeed has left a legacy——I wish him the best—-a good man.

  7. stex52 - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    For years, it seems, whenever a manager was signed, people would say “Was Leyland available?” A pro all the way down the line. Best of luck, Jim. Kick the cigarettes.

  8. Anoesis - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Class act. Good luck to him. I’d like to have heard the fart joke.

  9. natgeophotog - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    No warm and fuzzy feeling here for Jim Leyland. Tracy Ringolsby’s column of 10/21/13 says is all as far as this Rockies fan is concerned:

    “When the Rockies dismissed their original manager, Don Baylor, after the 1998 season, they signed Leyland to a three-year contract that paid him $2 million annually. Midway through the first year, Leyland knew he didn’t fit in the wacky world of Coors Field, where the more traditional a manager is, the bigger challenge the ballpark becomes. He didn’t announce the decision until season’s end, but he kept ownership informed so they could begin to formulate plans for a replacement.

    Leyland’s family never even moved to Colorado. He lived out of the conference room, next to his office in the clubhouse. He told the Rockies he was quitting after the first year, knowing quite well that walking out in the middle of the contract meant the Rockies controlled any managerial job he might consider for the next seven years.

    It didn’t matter. Leyland is a man of conviction. He realized early on in Colorado that he took the job for the wrong reason — money.”

    ‘nuf said.

    • polegojim - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      NatGeo… there’s not a Manager on earth that fits the wacky world of Coors Field and Rockies ownership. It’s a pathetic situation.

      To judge Leyland on his performance for a franchise committed to perennial failure and ineptitude is ridiculous.

      I’m just glad Leyland got out of the Rockies Org as soon as he did. I feel bad for Weiss.

    • jdillydawg - Oct 21, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      Wow, you know your stuff. Why am I reading Calcaterra to get the news? You already know exactly what Leyland thinks, why don’t you tell us the real reason he stepped down. The “gas is low” comment is obviously a lie.

      Your comment on his time with the Rockies reflects a guy who took a job then realized early on it was a poor fit. He didn’t walk out in the middle of the day, flip off his boss, or say one bad thing. In fact, he did everything a boss would hope an employee would do if the fit were wrong.

      Yeah, he’s a real bum. He chased that money so hard he left $4million on the table and gave up considerable control of his future. Now that’s greed at it’s finest.

    • Steve A - Oct 21, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      He realized the job wasn’t for him. He notified his employer, who chose to keep him employed until the end of the year. He left with two years remaining on his contract and forfeited the salary that came with it.

      Wow, he sounds like a total jerk.

  10. gloccamorra - Oct 21, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Maybe he was forced out? Did MLB institute a new rule banning smoking in the dugout tunnel? That would do it.

  11. sandrafluke2012 - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    thinks slugging>OBP. Time for this stubborn anti-science man to go

    • thenicklemansbrothera - Oct 22, 2013 at 3:56 PM

      @sandrafluke: That stubborn anti-science man got his team to the playoffs and very close to the WS. . Where is your team? Fortunatelly mine happens to be there but if they weren’t I would hope it was a team led by someone like Leland.

  12. tominma - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Leland richly deserves to retire on his terms when he is apparently till healthy!! There aren’t many managers like him. This Boston fan bids you a long and healthy retirement!

  13. weaselpuppy - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Good on ya Jimmy Smokes! Great clubhouse guy and leader. Not so great bullpen manager and tactician. Top notch person.

    Under no circumstance should Lamont or Lloyd be considered for the position.

  14. daheadlee - Oct 21, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Mr Leyland:
    I’ve been retired 5 years. If you are in fact retiring, I hope you enjoy your retirement as much as I enjoy mine. Good luck in the future.

  15. bender4700 - Oct 21, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Love Leyland. Sad day.

    Glad to see he’s staying in the organization. Replacing Dombrowski eventually when he becomes Commissioner?

  16. dylanesq - Oct 21, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    I was left wondering why the hell he pulled pitcher Max Scherzer when he was doing fine and may well have won the game for the Tigers.

  17. jcmeyer10 - Oct 21, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    More like, the cigarette was going out.

  18. tuloisgod - Oct 21, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    I won’t dance on Leyland’s grave, and I wish him well in retirement. I even have a grudging respect for him as a good baseball guy. But the fact is, as NatlGeo pointed out, Leyland quit on the Rockies. It wasn’t just that he “fulfilled” his one full year on a three-year deal; it was that by mid-season of that one year, everyone knew he was done. He no longer tried to fight for his players, and he seemed to have no stomach for trying to help a young, struggling improve. He wasn’t even trying to make the most of a bad situation; he just quit trying altogether. When he landed with the Tigers and their loaded lineup (after leaving the Marlins after their post-World Series yard sale), it was apparent that, first and foremost, he was a frontrunner and he wanted nothing to do with building a franchise from the ground up. I’m honestly not trying to denigrate him, just to give a clear-eyed view of him.

  19. tiger7575 - Oct 21, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    He’s been retired for years, took lots of money from the Rockies without ever seriously managing any games, because it was hard to do in Coors Field. Signed a multi year deal, drank, smoked and slept in the clubhouse! Never even committed to renting an apartment…overrated for years. Pulled a hamstring backing up to the pay window.

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