Even though he never managed one of my squads, Jim Leyland long ago became one of my favorite members of the baseball world. I don’t know if it was the fact he reminded me of my father (he resembles him physically and some of the things he says) or the washing down cigarettes with chocolate milk, or being one of the few in the game today that forgo the opportunity to use computers because he trusts his gut more.
It could be because he refers to beat writer questions as “silly shit” or because he was the real article. What you saw was what you got with Leyland. He didn’t dress up and his answers he fed the media were of the same mold. I would have loved to have had him leading a clubhouse full of my favorite guys.
When you think of the term ‘baseball man’ I’m not sure you can think of anyone who fits the term better. I picture Leyland’s office at Comerica having a smoke-stained ceiling and a little fridge with nothing but stale bread and condiments in it. He is financially set, but you get the feeling a guy like Leyland still drives across town to use a coupon. He is genuine – and his players fought harder for him than most do for their manager because they probably loved the guy.
I will miss Jim Leyland being part of the game. He’s part of a dying breed. Guys from the old school. Guys who were around when I was a kid and first started watching the game. Another dinosaur goes extinct. There will never be another like you, Jimmy Leyland. As illustrious of a career as you had, I am one who believes your talents far outweighed your results.