Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Movember - Token American Style - AL Central

For background on Movember see my original post.
Support the cause - donate to Steve, and the UWO Geography Gentlemen!
Be sure to check out Lindsay's Movember blog! 

On this, the last day of November, I wrap up my MLB Tour de Whiskers.  Though I have featured contemporary players, the moustache has a long history of creating an image and mystic for many ballplayers.  As we have seen with Mr. Redstockings, 'staches aren't limited to those on the diamond, but off as well.  This is also the case with my final Movember profile, AL Central manager - Jim Leland.

James Richard "Jim" Leyland
Jim Leyland actually began his baseball career with the Detroit Tigers when he was signed as a catcher in 1962.  He spent several seasons as a minor leaguer for the Tigers club (1964-1970), though mainly served as a coach in 1970.  Leyland left the Tigers for the first time in 1982 when he became Tony La Russa's third base coach from 1982-85 with the Chicago White Sox.

Jim's first appointment as a manager came on November 20, 1985, when he was named the 33rd manager in Pittsburgh Pirates history.  He was with the Pirate for ten years (1986-96) and won two Manager of the Year trophies (90 & 92).  Leyland led the Pirates to the National League Championship Series for three straight seasons from 1990-92, though unfortunately the club was unable to secure the title. 

Leyland's first championship came in 1997, when he managed the Florida Marlins to a World Series title.  The off-season following 97 saw owner Huizenga dismantle the team, and Leland resigned after a terrible 1998 season.  He was skipper for the Colorado Rockies for one season in 99, before temporarily leaving management to scout for the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 2005, Leyland returned to the franchise with which he originally signed, managing in the American League for the first time.  In the 2006 regular season, Leyland steered the Tigers to a 95-67 record, the best since 1987.  It was enough for the Tigers to enter the playoffs as a wild card, defeating the New York Yankees and sweeping the Oakland A's to claim the AL pennant.  Unfortunately, the Tigers were unable to best the St. Louis Cardinals and win the World Series.  However, in leading the Tigers to the AL pennant, Jim became the seventh manager to win pennants in both major leagues.  His first season managing the Tigers earned him the Manager of the Year award for the third time in his career - third person in baseball history to win this award in both leagues.  As of August, 2011 Leyland's contract has been extended through the 2012 season.

These impressive statistics will undoubtedly see Jim Leyland into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager, though which team he goes in under may be up for debate.  As he started a Tiger, and is currently a Tiger, I'm making him my choice for the AL Central representative in this Movember Hall of Fame.

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