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Leyland could have called it a career, and it would have been an impressive one even at that point. He managed Pittsburgh Pirates to three straight division titles from 1990-92 and helped the Marlins win it all in 1997.

But he couldn’t resist when Dombrowski _ his boss in Florida _ came calling.

The Tigers wanted him to replace Alan Trammell, who played for former Tigers manager Sparky Anderson, who chose not to promote Leyland to his coaching staff in 1979.

Leyland left the organization a few years to become the third base coach for the Chicago White Sox and work for one of his best friends, Tony La Russa. He got his first shot to manage in the majors in 1986 in Pittsburgh, where he still has a home with his wife.

Leyland’s 1,676 wins over 22 regular seasons _ with the Pirates, Marlins, Rockies and Tigers _ rank No. 1 among active managers and put him 15th on the career list.

“I have so much respect and revere what he’s done in his career,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s one of the best ever.”

Leyland’s even-keeled disposition has served him well, refusing to get too high or low after wins or losses during a 162-game season or after losing the first two games of a seven-game World Series. When reporters ask one too many questions about a previous game, Leyland says he won’t “chew yesterday’s breakfast,” and declines to look back.

He tries to touch base with every player every day by shouting playfully at them while walking through the clubhouse or chatting quietly face to face on the field during batting practice.

Rah-rah, he’s not.

“Skip is not the one that’s going to hold a meeting or a big speech or anything like that, he’s not that type of manager,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. “The thing about Skip, he’s extremely honest.”

And so are fans in the Motor City.

When the Tigers are winning, Leyland is hailed. When they’re losing, as they did more than expected during the season, he hears about it.

“Well, it’s great right now,” Leyland said of interacting with the public. “It wasn’t quite as good earlier in the summer, but it’s pretty good right now.

“Everybody is having a good time.”


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