Jim Leyland’s best of times: Remembering him after he stepped down as Tigers skipper

David Brown
Big League Stew

Jim Leyland told Dave Dombrowski in September that the 2013 season would be his last as manager of the Detroit Tigers. At 68 years old, and as he was nearing eight full seasons in Detroit, Leyland simply felt like he was running out of energy to the job properly.

"I told him that I didn't think it would be fair for me to continue. The fuel was starting to get low," Leyland said at a press conference Monday morning at Comerica Park in Detroit.

"When it's time, it's time. And it's time."

Big League Stew reported earlier Monday morning that Leyland was stepping down as Tigers manager after taking them to the American League Championship Series. Leyland said he had no regrets, but offered an apology to Tigers fans for falling short of the World Series championship. Leyland said he told the players after the Tigers lost Game 6 at Boston on Saturday night.

"They started to applaud," Leyland said. "I didn't know how to take that."

Leyland went 700-597 as Tigers manager, winning two AL pennants (in 2006 and 2012) and three AL Central titles to close out his run. Obverall, he went 1,769-1,728 with a World Series title, three pennants, six first-place finishes and eight playoff appearances in stints with the Pirates, Marlins, Rockies and Tigers. Whoever runs the Detroit team next will have big shoes to fill, but also a deep roster that could win a World Series in 2014.

Dombrowski, the team's general manager, didn't offer much information as to who the new guy might be, though early speculation by Jon Heyman of CBS points to Kirk Gibson of the Arizona Diamondbacks and former major league catcher Brad Ausmus as possibilities. It's unlikely that the D-backs would give permission for Gibson, one of the greatest living former Tigers players, to leave. And Ausmus has very little managing experience.

In the meantime, let's reflect on the career of Leyland, who said he'd like to retire in the Tigers organization and indicated he's done managing. Through the years, Leyland made us laugh, he made us cry, he made us sit up straight and pay attention.

A natural born cryer (and moonwalker) after Tigers win AL Central in 2013:

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Best buds (in 2007). Tony La Russa is one of the few people Jim Leyland told he was stepping down as Tigers manager.

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'You saw what you saw, now write it!' Leyland uses writers to get word out regarding bad umpiring:

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'C'mon, in!' Leyland invites the press into his kitchen on his last day as Pirates manager in 1996:

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Magglio Ordoñez's hair clinches AL Pennant in 2006:

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'God Bless America and you're out of the game!'

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'Yeah, I had a lot of cigarettes.'

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On that note, the "Jim Leyland animated breakfast":

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Does anyone remember when Jim Leyland managed the Rockies in 1999?

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Katie and Jim Leyland, back in the mid-1990s. If she really loved him, she would have burned his sweater right after the Steelers game:

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Take a good, long look at this face. Won't see it around a major league dugout in 2014:

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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