Melvin learned a lot while under Leyland's tutelage

Melvin learned a lot while under Leyland's tutelage

Melvin learned a lot while under Leyland's tutelage
DETROIT -- The A's and Tigers are making their own history in the American League Division Series, but there's also a unique story involving Oakland manager Bob Melvin and Detroit.

Melvin came up with the Tigers as a rookie catcher in 1985, the year after Detroit won its last World Series title, to begin a 10-year Major League playing career. Four years before that, in instructional league, he played for an up-and-coming manager named Jim Leyland, who now helms the Tigers.

Melvin said he wasn't around Leyland for very long that year, because Leyland got the third-base coaching job for the Chicago White Sox in the middle of that season, but that didn't matter.

"There were so many things you could learn from [him] as a young player, and then as far as playing for Jim Leyland ... it didn't take you long to be around Jim Leyland to realize the impact that he has around players and people," Melvin said.

"I remember losing three or four games in a row to start, and he came in, had a little tirade, in instructional league, that got my attention very quickly. Some of the points were made that because this is winter ball doesn't mean we [don't] go out there without the intensity to win. [I] learned a lot in a very short period of time with Jim Leyland, one of the great managers of all time."

As for Detroit, Melvin remembers entering a clubhouse full of champions and learning his place very quickly.

"It was more like do your thing and [don't] be heard, just kind of do your thing," Melvin said. "That's the way it was back then when you were a rookie type player. It's a little different now, but being able to come in behind the Lance Parrishes and Kirk Gibsons and Alan Trammells and Jack Morrises. I watched those guys very closely coming up through the system, and I really was proud of the fact I came up in the Tigers system.

"I only spent one year in college. Then you go up in your system, which was for me it was a Tiger system. It was almost like being at a university."

Leyland recalled a few things about the younger Melvin.

"Well, I just remember Bob was an excellent catcher," Leyland said. "He was like all of us, there was a question mark whether he was going to hit or not.

"But he was always a very bright student of the game. You could see that right from the get go. He's done a wonderful, wonderful job."