THIS DATE IN BASEBALL HISTORY- NOVEMBER 20, 1985- PITTSBURGH PIRATES HIRE JIM LEYLAND AS THEIR NEW MANAGER

Jim Leyland

This Day In Baseball History- November 20, 1985- Pittsburgh Pirates hire Jim Leyland as their new manager. 1985 was a terrible year to be a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. The Pirates finished 57-104 last place- 43 1/2 games out of first place. It was even worse than that – they had veteran players who were obviously disengaged- they didn’t seem to care. It was so bad the Pirates brought the architect of their 1960 and 1971 teams- Joe L. Brown back as General Manager the second half of the season. Brown started to clean house. Chuck Tanner- who was the right manager for the 1979 Pirate championship team- had clearly lost control of this bunch of players. Tanner was fired at the end of the season. The Pirates first move puzzled many people hiring a man named Syd Thrift who had been out of baseball for nine years- and was running a real estate business at the time as their new general manager. Thrift then hired a relatively unknown third base coach for the Chicago White Sox named Jim Leyland as their new manager. I had remembered the name Jim Leyland from an article I had read a year or so before. He was a baseball lifer who had spent most of his baseball career as a minor league player and then manager before joining the coaching staff of Tony LaRussa in Chicago. But these moves turned out to be just what the Pirates needed. Thrift made some great trades- and the 41 year old Leyland came in with a lot of energy and the Pirates slowly started turning things around. Under Leyland the Pirates would win three National League Eastern Division titles from 1990-1992. He would leave after the 1996 season for Florida where he would manager the Florida Marlins to a World Series title in 1997.

7 responses to “THIS DATE IN BASEBALL HISTORY- NOVEMBER 20, 1985- PITTSBURGH PIRATES HIRE JIM LEYLAND AS THEIR NEW MANAGER

  1. I didn’t realize that Tanner lasted until Leyland. I always liked Chuck Tanner but yea Leyland was the right man. Hans….what happened to Joe L. Brown? Did he step aside for Syd Thrift?

    • Brown retired with Murtaugh after 1976… then when things really got bad in 1985 he came back- but it was just to finish the season- by that time he was closing in on 70 [he would live into his 90’s] – he made a couple trades getting rid of some unhappy veterans who were dogging it– and then in the off-season I think he had some influence on the hiring of Thrift- who had worked with him in the past. Brown was GM on those 60 and 71 teams and the architect of the teams in the 70’s- although his successor Harding ‘Pete’ Peterson had been the farm director in the late 60’s- 70’s- and has to be given a lot of credit as GM in 79- that team was in a large part his… Peterson seemed to lose the plot- along with Tanner around 1983 or so…

    • Ok I got ya. Thrift did a great job because they could have won in those 3 years. That turned out to be a quick turn around all things considered

    • and Smiley was a good pitcher also… the big trade Pena for Van Slyke and Lavalliere- a big part of the turnaround–and boy when Thrift made the trade- the fan base in Pittsburgh hated it… turned out pretty well..

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s