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Jim Leyland: “I looked up and the (expletive) took off”

Mar 11, 2014, 1:13 PM EDT

Pirates Jim Leyland

New Tigers manager Brad Ausmus accidentally gave a steal sign in a spring training game, so old Tigers manager Jim Leyland talked to Chris Iott of about a time he once did that same thing while with the Pirates in 1992:

“Tom Prince was on first,” Leyland said. “He was a slow catcher. We were behind about three runs late in the game and my steal sign that day was if I put my arm up on the back pad (behind the bench) in the dugout. I was looking at something on my thing and I put my arm up. I was looking at my lineup card or something. I looked up and the (expletive) took off.”

So many stories like this turn out to be apocryphal, which is both the good thing and the bad thing about being able to easily look stuff up on the internet, but Iott did a little digging and actually found the game on

Tom Prince attempted to steal second base with one out in the ninth inning of a game in which the Pirates were trailing 6-3, which really makes me hope someone contacts Prince and asks him what was going through his mind when he saw the steal sign.

Oh, and the Pirates made a late comeback and ended up losing by … one run.

  1. unclemosesgreen - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    Counter-intel fail
    Slow catcher paid attention
    Leyland cracks me up

    • beefytrout - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      What’s with the haiku?

      No one appreciates them.

      Better luck next time.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        Blame jwbiii – he got me started. Oh, and I pay less than no attention to thumb harpies. I only worry about disapprobation expressed in writing. Sometimes. A little.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Mar 11, 2014 at 4:28 PM

        Uncle: one of my brothers LOVES haikus. But he also believes baseball season begins in early October (unless someone gives him free tickets in July), so his judgment is dubious.

      • moogro - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        I’m all for the haiku.

      • shorttracknews - Mar 13, 2014 at 12:03 AM

        I agree, it’s bad enough I gotta see one every week in Peter King’s MMQB column.

  2. karlkolchak - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    “I was looking at something on my thing…”

    I really hope Leyland had the team doctor prescribe him some ointment for that.

  3. brimab - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    That hat is glorious

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      A short-brimmed fez
      Perched above Jim Leyland’s mop
      Glory is the word

    • lanflfan - Mar 11, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      Donald Duck wants his Pirate hat back.

    • bfunk1978 - Mar 11, 2014 at 4:59 PM

      You like the stove-pipe hats, just like the pirates of olde used to wear?

  4. historiophiliac - Mar 11, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    Of course the *beep* took off. Anyone who’s seen the clip of Leyland letting Barry Bonds have it during practice would’ve taken off. Like quick.

    Also, seriously, the best looking former manager in baseball. And, he dances.

  5. The Common Man - Mar 11, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Prince is the current minor league catching coordinator for the Pirates, so he shouldn’t be hard to track down in Bradenton.

  6. sportsdrenched - Mar 11, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    From big men running
    to the profanity this
    thread is full of win

  7. rje49 - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Tom Prince; 9 stolen bases in 17 attempts, in 17 years in the majors!

  8. chad10 - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    So, was he safe or out?

    • rje49 - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      Yer OUT!!!

  9. 1981titan - Mar 11, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    My Father did that while Managing a Little League team. His bunt sign was his belt. He had his best hitter up and hitched up his pants. The player dutifully put down a nice bunt. After my father questioned why he would even think of bunting the player replied “You gave me the Bunt sign”.

  10. mortalkondek - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    Great story. Sure do miss Jim Leyland. He’s a classic.

  11. musicman495 - Apr 1, 2014 at 7:47 AM

    I didn’t know Abe Lincoln played for the Pirates.

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