Jim Leyland's eight years managing the Detroit Tigers were not all puppy-dog tails and sunshine. There were disappointments, letdowns, off years, bullpen moves that blew up spectacularly and no World Series title to show for it all when it was time to go.
But Leyland was for the most part a likable character whose quirks provided countless entertaining moments both on the field and off. We could go on and on cataloging them.
We dug up a few of the most iconic ones for your enjoyment, but feel free to add your favorites in the comments.
After taking the reins from Alan Trammell, who managed the 2005 club to a 71-91 record, Leyland had to find a way to whip the team into shape. They had the talent, but they didn't know how to win.
These Tigers seemed better right from the strat, but following five wins to open the season by losing four consecutive games. After the third such loss, 10-2 to the Indians, Leyland blew up behind the closed doors of the clubhouse clubhouse and in speaking to the press gave a speech he's been remembered for ever since.
Leyland: We Stunk. Next question.
Reporter: What bothered you the most?
Leyland: It was lackluster, the whole ball of wax was lackluster. We had a chance to take the series, take 3 out of 4, and we came out like we brought our luggage to the park like we had to play a game before we went on the road. That's not good enough.
Reporter: It seems like this was your worst loss...
Leyland: Yeah we stunk period. We stunk and that's not good enough. This stuff has been going on here before and it's not going to happen here. We had a chance to take a series. I'm not talking about anyone in particular. I'm talking about the team, myself, the coaches, and everybody else included. It's my responsiblity to have the team ready to play today, and they weren't ready to play. They were ready to get on the plane and go to Oakland. If they won it was okay and if they lost it was okay. That's not good enough
The tearful joy
Leyland was often criticized by fans and in the media, and he knew that's just part of the job and let the water fall off his back. You could tell just how much delivering big wins meant to Leyland when he couldn't help but get choked up while talking about them.
But Leyland didn't just get choked up about the Tigers' fans. Here's a video of Leyland crying about Don Kelly's home run in the ALCS (skip to the 3 minute mark):
Justin Verlander wasn't the only guy on the team that liked to have a good time. In 2011, Leyland waited for Lloyd McClendon to look away for a moment while the two were against the railing watching a game. At that moment, Leyland stealthily snuck a piece of gum down and waited for the fun to ensue.
Andy Dirks put down a bunt on June 27, 2011, and was called safe at first. (Replays showed it wasn't even close, he was out.) Then the umps decided Dirks was out after all. That may have been the right call, but Leyland wanted to know exactly what was going on with the decision.
Then one of the greatest things ever happened. I could explain it, but you'll just have to watch for yourself to get the full enjoyment as Leyland mimed the play and aftermath before getting run. You can jump straight to the 1 minute mark.
Jim Leyland can cut the rug. He taught a Michael Jackson impersonator how to do the moonwalk before one game this year, and wow'd everyone with his moves during the clubhouse celebration following clinching the AL Central title this September.
First, here's the moonwalk, via MLB.com:
But here's one of our more favorite moments ever, which is why we saved it for last.
Leyland was off to the back of the clubhouse when the Tigers celebrated their 2013 division title in Minnesota. Torii Hunter picked him up and carried Leyland into the party. The skipper got doused in bubbly and broke out the dance moves, (GIF credit to MLB.com):
And here's the video of the entire sequence (click to make it full screen)
Displaying so much emotion, with so much love for his team and its fans, and having so much fun, it's easy to see why Leyland will be remembered fondly ... despite those questionable moves to the bullpen.