Jim Leyland has accomplished many things in his storied baseball career, but soon he may be able to add Hall of Famer to his other merits. Leyland whose lengthy managerial career ended in 2013 with the Tigers, was just announced to be one of eight names eligible for Hall of Fame voting by the Contemporary Era Baseball Committee.
Jim Leyland’s incredible career as a manager began long before he ever scowled his way into the hearts of Tigers’ fans. Leyland—who like some of the best managers in baseball was once a catcher—began managing with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986 when he was a relatively spritely 41 years old. Leyland went on to manage the Pirates for 11 seasons and winning a whopping 851 games with the team (though the 863 losses weren’t a heck of a lot of fun, certainly). It was Leyland who decided to part ways with the Pirates, yearning to manage a contender and not seeing that possibility in Pittsburgh.
His next stop was the then-Florida Marlins, where he manged for two seasons and got himself a World Series ring in his very first year at the helm. Under Leyland’s guidance the Marlins were the fatest expansion team in MLB history to win the World Series (this was later bested by Arizona, but let’s not dwell). The Marlins went into fire sale mode shortly thereafter, and Leyland was bought out of his contract just as the team’s ownership was changing hands.
He went next to Colorado to manage the Rockies for a single season, where he ultimately felt he couldn’t manage to the demands of the park, and left his contract early. There was a lapse in his management career from 2000 until 2006, when he was selected to replace Alan Trammell as the Tigers’ manager. In his very first year, he brought the team to the World Series (this while still in the shadow of the dismal 2003 season so recently behind them). Leyland managed the Tigers with great success from 2006 to 2013, winning two AL Pennants and taking the club to the World Series in 2006 and 2012. He did not win another ring, but his impact on the Tigers was incredible. He did not stray far after leaving the dugout, moving instead to the front office, where he continues to work for the franchise to this day as a Special Assistant.
In his managerial career, Leyland has amassed 1769 wins, three trips to the World Series, and one World Series win. To say he is deserving of his place in Cooperstown would be an understatement. And while he was with the Pirates the longest, he did opt to leave because he recognized he could find success elsewhere. He may not have won a ring in Detroit, but he did have his most successful run of seasons there and managed some of the greatest Tigers’ players of all time. It would be difficult to imagine him going in with any other cap than the old English D when he gets his plaque.
The Era committee works differently from the standard Hall of Fame voting, in that it is not BBWAA members casting a vote for who they feel is most worthy of admission. There is a small voting contingent comprised of members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, executives, and veteran media members, and an individual must garner at least 75% of the vote in order to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
This particular group of the Contemporary Eta is specifically to elect Managers, Umpires, and non-Players who have impacted the game. Up to eight names can be selected for voting, and the other seven men joining Leyland on the ballot are Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Ed Montague, Hank Peters, Lou Piniella, Joe West, and Bill White.
Here is the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee ballot for the @BaseballHall Class of 2024.— MLB (@MLB) October 19, 2023
Former managers, executives, and umpires whose primary contributions to the game came since 1980 were eligible for consideration.
Voting results will be announced December 3rd. pic.twitter.com/j8wITHA8xh
We won’t need to wait long to hear if Leyland has made the cut this year, as the results of voting will be announced on December 3.