The decision has apparently been coming for nearly two months. Leyland made up his mind following a September 7 thrashing in Kansas City, where the Tigers were blown out. After Detroit was eliminated in Game 6 of the ALCS against Boston, he informed the players of his plans. At the press conference, he was thankful for having the opportunity to manage the team he grew up with.
I don't feel it would be fair for the organization, Mr. Ilitch, the front office, the players and the coaches for me to go on. The fire has gone low. The thing I'm proudest of, is I came here to make talent into a team. I think we did that.
I'm proudest to have the privilege of managing the Detroit Tigers. But really I'm being selfish. The number of wins, the number of postseason appearances, I just feel so blessed. I don't want to slight anybody, it's been just as much fun for me to manage the Ramon Santiagos as the Miguel Cabreras or Justin Verlanders.
Leyland has a mountain of accolades under his belt during his time in Detroit. He managed a Cy Young Award winner in Verlander, back-to-back AL MVP Award winners in Verlander and Cabrera, and it looks as though the Tigers' pitching staff will run the table with this year's major awards.
He will step down having managed some of the best teams in baseball. He began in the 1980s with the Pittsburgh Pirates, having been the first manager for a young rookie by the name of Barry Bonds. He then led the 1997 Florida Marlins to a World Series championship. After a disappointing followup year that saw the Marlins drop 108 games, Leyland spent a year in Colorado that didn't fare much better. Then in 2006, he took over a struggling Tigers team that hadn't had a winning season in 13 years. But he admits it was far from easy.
This job entails a lot more than people think. There's a lot more than writing out the lineup and pulling the pitcher. Like I said, I was low on fuel and I could see it coming. The trips were starting to get tough. I'm going to be 69 years old, I'm not ashamed of that. I'm proud of that. That's the one thing I'm really happy about. I think I still have a chance to get a World Series ring here -- at least I think they'll give me one if they win it next year. We're just changing the guard a little bit, that's all we're doing.
With that, Leyland has officially retired from managing but will be accepting another position that he noted on Monday had yet to be determined. His total wins will rank him among baseball's best managers including Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre.