Jim Leyland leaves Tigers on his own terms

Jim Leyland retired as Tigers manager Monday after his team lost to the Red Sox in the ALCS in six...

Jim Leyland retired as Tigers manager Monday after his team lost to the Red Sox in the ALCS in six games. (Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:56 PM ET

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.”


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