MLBN revisits Leyland's loyal, fiery persona

TV special on longtime manager to debut Tuesday night

January 27th, 2017
Jim Leyland, who managed 22 seasons in the big leagues, was the Tigers' skipper from 2006-13. (AP)

DETROIT -- While Jim Leyland looks ahead to one more managerial stint this spring when he leads Team USA into the World Baseball Classic, MLB Network has a look back at his managerial career ready to roll, including an up-close look at his start in the Tigers' organization and his eight years managing in Detroit.

"Jim Leyland: A Life in Baseball," an hourlong special produced by MLB Network and hosted by award-winning broadcaster Bob Costas, will premier on the network Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. While the centerpiece of the production is Costas' sit-down interview with Leyland filmed this month at his Pittsburgh home, the special -- part of the MLB Network Presents series -- digs deep into his career with interviews and stories from players, coaches and friends, many of them familiar faces to Tigers fans.

While seven-time National League MVP Barry Bonds talks about their relationship as player and manager with the Pirates, including their famous Spring Training argument in 1991, former Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski discusses the decision to woo Leyland back to managing in the organization where his baseball career began in the 1960s.

Leyland's longtime coach and confidante, Gene Lamont, talks about various points in their careers, as does former Tigers coach and Pirates outfielder Andy Van Slyke and former Tigers players Sean Casey and Gary Sheffield. Together, they delve into the complex relationship of a manager who became known for highlights of his fiery competitiveness, yet was better known and respected in the clubhouse for his equally fierce loyalty, sometimes teary emotions and his uncanny ability to get the most out of role players.

And yes, they chronicle the clubhouse blowups, and how players never quite knew when he was done yelling once he got going.

The special also digs into MLB's archives for rarely seen footage of Leyland on and off the field, and behind-the-scenes looks at some of the signature games in Leyland's career, including the dramatic Game 2 of the Tigers' 2013 AL Championship Series in Boston that proved heartbreaking for Detroit fans and the last series for Leyland before he announced his retirement.

MLB Network earned raves last year for its work on a documentary on the life and career of legendary Tiger Mark Fidrych. After Tuesday's premier, the Leyland special will re-air in February leading up to Leyland's return to the dugout with Team USA.