Patrick Leyland tongue-tied over dad's Hall call

December 15th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Scott Merkin’s White Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- Patrick Leyland is an entertaining and insightful baseball quote straight from the category of “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” with his father, Jim, perched near the top of that group.

But in an interview taking place shortly after he learned that Jim was elected to the Hall of Fame via the Contemporary Era Baseball Committee Managers/Executive/Umpires Ballot, the 2023 manager for the White Sox Single-A Kannapolis affiliate admitted to being tongue-tied in trying to answer what this unbelievable honor for his dad meant to his family.

“I felt like I tripped over myself my entire time trying to answer that question,” Patrick said with a laugh when we talked the day after the interview in question. “Honestly, it’s tough to put into words. It really is.

“I’m so happy for him. There’s definitely some relief in there. When you find out he’s on the ballot and wait a certain amount of time, it obviously crosses your mind. I know he wanted it. We wanted it for him, and you know, that’s the last stop, like he said. There’s nothing left to do. That’s it. For him to get in, we are just so thankful. … It’s just totally humbling.”

Jim Leyland managed 22 seasons for the Pirates, Marlins, Rockies and Tigers, guiding the Marlins to a World Series title in 1997 and leading Detroit to the American League pennant in 2006 and ‘12. Add in 1,769 career victories to this exceptional resume.

The younger Leyland, who was selected by the Tigers in the eighth round of the 2010 MLB Draft, and Jim spoke to me in the summer of 2021 about the bond they shared through baseball and some of Patrick’s fondest memories from growing up in the game. Jim had his big league coaching start with the White Sox as the third-base coach under Tony La Russa from 1982-85, while Patrick’s first bench jobs came in the Minors for the same organization.

Although Patrick isn’t yet sure where he’ll be, he’s under White Sox contract in 2024 after managing his first full-season team.

“It’s been a dream of mine for a long, long time, and I really enjoy the work,” Patrick said. “I love the job. I love the responsibilities that come with it. I love the competition. … I just had a blast doing it, and I love working with the coaches and players we have with the White Sox. It’s really a privilege.”

“I only went to three games; I stay away. He's on his own,” Jim said of Patrick during his Hall of Fame press conference at this month’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. “He's got to earn it on his own. We talk a lot. He's a little more modern than I am when it comes to some of the strategies and stuff that goes on in today's game. I'm not going to sit up here and brag about my son, but he's a baseball junkie like his dad. I think he's pretty good. He's going to have to earn his own way, and I think there's a possibility that he might.”

When Jim received the Hall of Fame news, Patrick was sitting with him at home. Jim had gone upstairs to collect himself upon thinking he wasn’t getting that special call, and Patrick followed to check on him with a reminder that the window of time was still open.

Patrick hugged his dad after the call. The first thing Patrick actually said to Jim was, “You earned it,” before Patrick’s mom, sister and girlfriend joined the celebration. An outpouring of support followed from across those Leyland knew and influenced. 

“What I’m most proud of, and I may have actually told you this before, in doing the media stuff and everything after, it comes through how real and how genuine he is,” Patrick said. “He’s as authentic as it gets.

“In his career, it’s just who he is and how he treats people. That certainly came through, and we are really proud of him.”