Detroit Tigers: Jim Leyland Trying to Join Sparky Anderson and Tony LaRussa

By Timothy Holland

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is trying to join the short list of managers who have won championships with teams in the American and National Leagues. If the Tigers can defeat the San Francisco Giants, Leyland will become the third manger to accomplish this feat. Spark Anderson and Tony LaRussa are the others.

Anderson won the World Series as manager of the NL Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976. The ‘Big Red Machine’ as they were known is considered to be one of the greatest MLB teams ever assembled. They won 102 games in 1976. Cincinnati did not lose a game in the post season. They swept the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Championship Series, 3-0. Then the Reds swept the New York Yankees in four to win it all.

Anderson switched to the AL in 1979 as he became manager of the Tigers. In 1984 he returned to the World Series with a team that was just as dominant as his Cincinnati outfit. The Tigers started off 35-5 and were never challenged for the AL East pennant. In the post season, Detroit fell one game short of matching the Reds sweep in 1976. The Tigers swept the Kansas City Royals in the AL Championship Series then defeated the San Diego Padres four games to one to win it all. This made Anderson the first manager to win a championship with teams from both leagues.

LaRussa joined Anderson in 2006 when he led the St. Louis Cardinals of the NL to a world’s championship. This series is significant in that LaRussa beat Leyland who was also trying to become the second man to win it all with teams from both leagues. LaRussa had won his first championship with the AL Oakland Athletics in 1989. Leyland had won it all with the NL Florida Marlins in 1997.

Like Anderson’s Detroit team, LaRussa’s Athletics fell one game short of sweeping the post season. Their only defeat came in game three of the ALCS to the Toronto Blue Jays. In the World Series Oakland swept the Giants.

LaRussa added another ring to his resume when St. Louis won it all in 2011.

Leyland is getting his second chance to join Anderson and LaRussa on the short list of managers to win it all with teams in both leagues. If he accomplishes this, Leyland will have done something that men such as Joe McCarthy and Whitey Herzog could not. McCarthy fell short as manager of the NL Chicago Cubs in 1929 then won it seven times as manager of the AL Yankees. Herzog lost in 1980 with the AL Royals and won it all with the NL Cardinals in 1982.

Interestingly, Anderson and LaRussa accomplished their World Series double in their fifth Fall Classic appearance. The 2012 World Series is Leyland’s third.

If the Tigers win the World Series they will be able to boast two managers who won it all with teams in both leagues.

And Jim Leyland would join a short list that only includes Sparky Anderson and Tony LaRussa.

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