DuBOIS — Area professional baseball fans will soon have the chance to see former Pittsburgh Pirates manager and World Series Florida Marlins manager Jim Leyland up close and personal.
Leyland will be this year’s Grand Marshal for the 27th DuBois Community Days celebration, slated to be held in the DuBois Memorial Park Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16. The Firemen’s Parade kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Leyland is also scheduled to be on the American Legion stage for a live talk show with WPXI-TV Sports Director Alby Oxenreiter at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, according to Community Days Co-Chairman Jeff Baronick, noting there will be time for questions from the public as well.
“We’re very hopeful that everybody comes out if you’re interested in baseball, or if you are the parent of a Little Leaguer. Jim Leyland has an excellent reputation as a tactician in baseball but also as a good person with many life lessons,” Baronick said.
Baronick said the Community Days committee is excited to have Leyland as a guest in DuBois next weekend.
“We’ve been trying to get Jim for a couple of years now,” said Baronick. “We want to thank Alby Oxenreiter, my brother, Dan Baronick and S&T Bank, who have helped out quite a bit so we’re really looking forward to having him here with us. It’s an honor.”
Every year, the Community Days committee always tries to get a sports celebrity as the Grand Marshal.
“We’ve had many Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins,” Baronick said. “We’ve always tried to have a baseball person but since it’s in the middle of baseball season, it’s always been difficult. But through a lot of work, we’re very super excited to have him.”
Baronick noted that Leyland’s appearance is not published in the Community Days program book because it went to print before Leyland’s appearance was finalized.
We’re not professional entertainment organizers. We want to have nice people here. Leyland has an impeccable reputation of being just a down-to-earth person and that’s why we’re excited about having him — Jim Leyland the manager, yes, but Jim Leyland the person. I get excited about few things because I’m so used to organizing Community Days but this is definitely one that I’m really looking forward to having.”
Leyland currently serves as a special assistant to the Detroit Tigers and is the manager of the United States national baseball team.
Leyland began his baseball career with the Tigers when they signed him as a catcher on Sept. 21, 1963. He spent seven seasons as a minor leaguer in the Tigers organization (1964–1970), but mainly served as a coach with the Montgomery Rebels in 1970 while playing in just two games for the team. In 1972, Leyland became a minor league manager in the Tigers organization; beginning with the Clinton Pilots of the Midwest League; from 1979–1981, he was the manager of the Evansville Triplets winning two divisions (1979, 1981) in the American Association.
Leyland left the Tigers organization for the first time in 1982 when he became Tony La Russa’s third base coach for four seasons (1982–85) with the Chicago White Sox, including the team’s 1983 AL West division title, before being named the 33rd manager in Pittsburgh Pirates history on November 20, 1985.
Leyland was the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1986 to 1996. He won two Manager of the Year trophies with the Pirates in 1990 and 1992, and finished as runner-up in 1988 and 1991. Under Leyland, the Pirates went to the National League Championship Series in three straight seasons (1990, 1991, and 1992).
In 1997, Leyland was hired to manage the Florida Marlins and promptly led them to the franchise’s first championship. The Marlins, in only their fifth year of existence, became the fastest expansion franchise to win a World Series.
Leyland left managing after the 1999 season, and became a Pittsburgh-based scout for the St. Louis Cardinals. Leyland then took a job as manager of the Colorado Rockies, but walked away after the 1999 season. Leyland was then hired as new Tigers manager. It marked the first time Leyland managed in the American League.
In the 2006 regular season, Leyland guided the Tigers to a 95–67 record, the Tigers best season since 1987. The Tigers entered the playoffs as a wild card, and went on to defeat the New York Yankees and sweep the Oakland Athletics to win the American League pennant before falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2006 World Series.