(Reuters) - Jim Leyland has resigned as manager of the Detroit Tigers after leading the team to three consecutive division titles and two World Series appearances in eight seasons but plans to stay with the club, he said on Monday.
Leyland, 68, spent 22 years as a major league manager and has been part of professional baseball for 50 years.
He announced his resignation at a news conference in Detroit two days after the Tigers lost the American League Championship Series to the Boston Red Sox.
“When it’s time, it’s time, and it’s time to step down,” Leyland said.
“It’s not goodbye, because I will be in the organization doing something,” he added.
Leyland led four teams during his managerial career - the Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies and the Tigers, compiling a 1769-1728 record, including a 700-597 mark with Detroit.
He won the World Series with the Marlins in 1997, while the Tigers lost the World Series during his managerial reign in 2006 and 2012.
Leyland said he was not pushed out, but had informed Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski on September 8 that he would quit at the end of the season.
“I don’t feel it would be fair for the organization... the players and the coaches for me to go on,” Leyland said. “The fire has gone low.”
He has meant much to the club, Dombrowski said.
“Jim’s tenure will be looked back on as one of the great eras in Tigers history, an era that included two World Series appearances, four ALCS appearances in eight seasons, three division titles and two American League pennants,” the Tigers general manager said.
Leyland said he told the players of his decision on Saturday night, minutes after the team’s season ended in Boston.
”I didn’t know how to take it when they clapped,“ an emotional Leyland said. ”You could hear a pin drop.
“It was touching. I had a lot of nice comments from my players and I love them. I‘m not totally retiring today. I‘m just not going to be in the dugout anymore.”
Leyland spent more than a decade managing in the Tigers farm system before becoming a big league coach under Tony La Russa with the Chicago White Sox in the early 1980s.
He took over as the Pittsburgh Pirates manager in 1986 and built the team into a perennial contender, winning three consecutive National League East titles from 1990-92.
He moved to the Marlins in 1997, claiming a World Series title in his first season.
After the 1999 season with the Colorado Rockies, he was out as a big-league manager until 2006 when he took over the Tigers, leading them to the American League pennant and a World Series appearance the first year.
“The thing I‘m proudest of is ... I came here to make talent a team. I think we did that,” Leyland said.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry