There is a new member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Sunday night during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, the Hall of Fame's Contemporary Baseball Era Non-Players Committee announced longtime manager Jim Leyland has been voted into Cooperstown. The seven others on the ballot did not receive enough votes for induction.
"I can't thank baseball enough. It's been my life and I owe a lot of this to the game itself," Leyland said during an MLB Network interview Sunday. "... I'm going to the Hall of Fame because of the players, like every other manager does, to tell the truth. It's all about the players."
Leyland, 78, is 18th all-time with 1,769 managerial wins. He managed the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1986-96, the Florida Marlins from 1997-98, the Colorado Rockies in 1999, and the Detroit Tigers from 2006-13. Leyland's teams won six division titles (1990-92 and 2011-13), three pennants (1997, 2006, 2012), and one World Series title (1997). His career managerial record is 1,769-1,728 (.506) even though, each time he was hired, he took over a team that had a losing record in the previous season.
"The entire Pirates organization is elated to hear the news of Jim Leyland being voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame," Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said in a statement. "We take great pride in having hired Jim for his first Major League managerial position in 1986. During his 11 seasons with the Pirates, he led our club to three straight division titles, was twice named manager of the year and his 851 wins rank third all-time in team history. A long-time Pittsburgher and a true baseball man, we look forward to celebrating this historic achievement with Jim as he enters the hallowed halls in 2024."
Prior to becoming a big league manager, Leyland was a minor-league catcher with the Tigers from 1964-70. He then coached and managed in Detroit's farm system for more than a decade before breaking into the big leagues as a third base coach under fellow Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa with the Chicago White Sox from in 1982. Leyland coached four years in Chicago before being hired by the Pirates and is a three-time Manager of the Year (1990, 1992, 2006).
The Contemporary Baseball Era Non-Players Committee is a 16-person panel. Each committee member is limited to three votes and 12 votes were needed to get into the Hall of Fame. Managers Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, and Lou Piniella; umpires Ed Montague and Joe West; and executives Hank Peters and Bill White were also on this year's ballot. Here are the voting results:
- Jim Leyland: 15 votes (93.8%)
- Lou Piniella: 11 votes (68.8%)
- Bill White: 10 votes (62.5%)
- All others received fewer than five votes
Piniella fell one vote short of induction for the second time. He was also one vote short on what was then known as the Today's Game Era Committee's ballot in 2018. Piniella is 17th on the all-time managerial wins list, one spot ahead of Leyland, and he won the same number of division titles (six) and World Series championship (one). His next shot at the Hall of Fame will come when the committee meets next in December 2026.
"I would like to thank the Baseball Hall of Fame for considering me for this prestigious honor," Piniella said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. "Although I did not get inducted this year, I am very proud of my 40-plus years of MLB service and have accomplished more than I could ever have dreamed of. For those whom did not know, I have been battling cancer for the past few years and recently received some positive news. Although I did not make the Hall of Fame, I am so grateful to God for everything He has blessed me with, and I will be celebrating with my family and friends. Thank you again for considering me and God bless."
This year's 16 committee members were Hall of Fame players Jeff Bagwell, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Ted Simmons, and Jim Thome; Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre; former commissioner Bud Selig; longtime executives Sandy Alderson, Bill DeWitt, Michael Hill, Ken Kendrick, and Andy MacPhail; and media members/historians Sean Forman, Phyllis Merhige, Jack O'Connell, and Jesus Ortiz.
The Contemporary Baseball Era Non-Players Committee is one of several committees covering separate time periods that replaced the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee several years ago. The Classic Baseball Era Committee will meet next December to consider those whose greatest contributions to baseball were made prior to 1980. Tommy John, Thurman Munson, and Luis Tiant could be among those on the ballot.
Hall of Fame voting by the National Baseball Writers Association of America is ongoing.. The BBWAA's Hall of Fame class will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 23. Leyland and anyone voted in by the BBWAA will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Sunday, July 21, in Cooperstown.