ST. LOUIS - My first memory of Jim Leyland was not any great managerial move that he made.
Nor was it him dressing down Barry Bonds one morning in 1991 before a national film crew at Bradenton, Fla.
No, my first memory was after Leyland’s Pittsburgh Pirates won the National League East in 1990.
Interviewed moments after clinching he stood in a champagne soaked shirt, hair matted, eyes watering, either by beer or tears, belting out a George Strait song at the top of his lungs:
“I’m drinking champagne, feelin’ no pain til early mornin.’”
He was 45 years of age, howling at the moon like a Texas teen given a new car on prom night.
That’s what sports — that’s what winning — does to grown men.
ESPN aired the interview/American Idol audition and when I complimented him on his singing the next spring he seemed embarrassed and brushed it off saying “the clubhouse guy who passed away always used to sing that song.”