When you’re 68, working in a young man’s game, announcing your retirement is not a surprise. But Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has a few underappreciated qualities that are worth remembering.
Jim Leyland was a baseball man to the core. Raised in Perrysburg, Ohio, the son of a glassworker, he grew up wanting to do one thing: Play baseball.
He was good, very good, so the Tigers signed him up to play catcher in their minor league system. But just to get to the majors, you need to be great – and after seven years battling to get to the big leagues, Leyland realized he wasn’t great. Not as a player, at least.
So he decided to become a manager, and worked his way up from Detroit’s lowest minor league team to its highest. That climb took him from Bristol, Virginia, to Clinton, Iowa, to Montgomery, Alabama, then Lakeland, Florida, and finally Evansville, Indiana – Detroit’s top farm club.