The time Jim Leyland put up steal sign by accident and 'the (expletive) took off'

David Brown
March 11, 2014
Former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, left, visits with Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle before an exhibition spring training baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Pittsburgh Pirates in Lakeland, Fla., Tuesday, March 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Jim Leyland still hangs around, even though he does not manage anymore, and it's a good thing for all of us. The former major league skipper loves to tell stories and Leyland spun a doozy Monday in Detroit Tigers camp about a moment with the Pittsburgh Pirates he wished never happened.

This particular Leyland mistake came May 17, 1992, when the Pirates trailed the San Diego Padres by three runs with one out in the ninth inning. As reporter Chris Iott at notes, you could look up the game at

Tom Prince singled against Mike Maddux and closer Randy Myers came in to face pinch-hitter Gary Redus. For some reason, Prince — who came into the season with one stolen base in 84 career games — took off for second base on the first pitch. That reason was Leyland. He told MLive:

"Tom Prince was on first," Leyland said. "He was a slow catcher. We were behind about three runs late in the game and my steal sign that day was if I put my arm up on the back pad (behind the bench) in the dugout. I was looking at something on my thing and I put my arm up. I was looking at my lineup card or something. I looked up and the (expletive) took off.

"He did the right thing and he got thrown out by 20 feet, and we ended up losing by one run. We made a little comeback, and we ended up losing by one run."

The memory came to Leyland because of the mishap with signs made by new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus on Friday night. It happens to the best of them, even Leyland, who possibly will be put in the Hall of Fame someday.

"People make mistakes," Leyland said. "I see a misspelled word in the paper once in a while."

Possibly even on the interrnet.

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at and follow him on Twitter!

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