Jim Leyland, who guided the Marlins to their first World Series title as part of his 22-year career as an MLB manager, has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
He will be inducted as part of the Class of 2024 in Cooperstown on July 21.
Leyland’s selection, announced Sunday night, came via Contemporary Baseball Era Committee process. He was one of eight people on the ballot comprised of managers, executives and umpires and the only one of the eight elected. Leyland received votes from 15 of the 16 members of the committee.
“It’s the final stop, really, as far as your baseball career goes,” Leyland said. “To end up there, to land there in Cooperstown? It doesn’t get any better than that. That’s the ultimate. I certainly never thought it was going to happen. Most people probably don’t, but it did, and I’m sure I’m gonna enjoy it.”
Leyland, 78, managed in the big leagues for 22 seasons with the Pirates (1986-96), Marlins (1997-98), Rockies (1999) and Tigers (2006-2013). He won 1,769 games — second all-time among managers who never played in the big leagues, trailing only Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy — and three pennants in addition to the 1997 World Series title with the Marlins. He was also a three-time Manager of the Year winner (with the Pirates in 1990 and 1992 as well as the Tigers in 2006).
Seven times his teams had at least 90 victories seven times.
But in South Florida, that 1997 season reigns supreme.
In his first season managing the Marlins, a team in just its fifth year of existence, he guided the Marlins to a 92-70 record and a wild card berth in to the playoffs.
The Marlins swept the San Francisco Giants in the best-of-five National League Division Series, beat the Atlanta Braves in six games in the NL Championship Series and finally won it all Game 7 of the Worlds Series against the Cleveland Indians, with Edgar Renteria’s game-winning single driving in Craig Counsell in the 11th inning to secure the title.
“That team came together,” Leyland said. “They had gone out and they brought a few new players in. I was kind of a stranger to the team and so were some of the new players, but for whatever reason, I think we were something like 25-6 in spring training and I was scared to death because I thought ‘Oh my God, these expectations are going to be unbelievable.’ ... We got off to a good start. It was a great team. It was the best team in baseball that year. I think we ended up proving that. What a team it was. Edgar Renteria’s hit is something that will live with me forever. But all of those guys on that team, it was a close group of guys and it was a tough bunch of guys. They played the game the right way.”