All-Star Game interview with Jim Leyland

All-Star Game interview with Jim Leyland

Q. We were all pretty much, I think the whole stadium was moved by Mariano coming in. What was that like coming in for you as a baseball veteran to see the greeting he received?

JIM LEYLAND: I said to the players before the game, I said I'm not a motivational speaker but my motivation for tonight is to work our fannies off and bring in the greatest closer in of all time. I did lie, for one inning; for obvious reasons, I think you all understand that if something freaky would have happened in the lead to score some runs and take the lead, there possibly wouldn't have been ‑‑ in the ninth, so that's why I did it.

Q. What did it mean to you as a baseball lifer to see this ovation?

JIM LEYLAND: I thought it was wonderful by the fans but I expected it to be ‑‑ this is New York, obviously it's a different place. I can't imagine how Joe Torre and Joe Girardi feel bringing him in the ninth, that's a pretty good feeling. Tonight was the eighth inning, so if anybody ever messed up Mariano Rivera, I can lay claim to that.

Q. How difficult was it for the players to remain in the dugout while he was warming up?

JIM LEYLAND: We knew Neil Diamond was going to do sweet Caroline, and while we were waiting, we said, you don't want him to take the field yet, and we said, absolutely not, we are going to follow him in with the camera and we want the whole scenario.

It was kind of a stage to be honest with you, I'm not used to that, I'm more of a baseball guy but I hope I passed the test tonight in New York. I'm from a hick town from about 45 people and I'm not used to that kind of stuff. I can't tell you how emotional it was in the clubhouse before the game. That was very touching.

Torii Hunter ‑‑ I gave my little speech and I left, and I wanted Torii Hunter, a 17‑year veteran, to give a speech to the veterans and I'm sorry I wasn't in there to see it, but I had to meet with the umpires, but Mariano talked a little bit.

We were fired up, I'm very proud of them. The only thing I asked them to do was compete, because both clubhouses are full of superstar players. I said, everybody's a great player in both clubhouses but the only thing I'm asking you to do tonight is just compete and let's just see how this turns out.

Q. It almost sounds like the way the idea came about to stay in the dugout was almost spontaneous; was it that last moment?

JIM LEYLAND: Well, like I say, I don't know, the night was full of emotion, and to be honest with you, this is one of the toughest games I ever had to manage, because you have all these different scenarios that might happen, and really, the show tonight, even though we won the game, and a lot of guys did a very, very good job. I don't want to slight anybody. But this was really about trying to manipulate so we got Mariano at the right time.

We have a great relationship, Mariano and I, believe it or not; we're friends. We don't hang out together but we're friends (Laughter. I think that he told me in Detroit when I presented him with something earlier this year, I presented him with a picture of throwing a pitch at Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park, and I presented him to that at the beginning of the year because they were not coming back to Detroit. And he said something that will stick with me forever, and I won't tell you what that was.

Q. Just to clarify, was it absolutely the eighth inning, or if there was a big enough lead?

JIM LEYLAND: No, it wasn't, but I wanted to make sure that it was a comfortable enough lead that I just couldn't take any chance. You know, I'm probably not the most popular manager in baseball; I wanted to make sure I got out of here alive tonight. (Laughter.)

Q. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't at least try. I mean, could you give us a hint at what Mariano said to you?

JIM LEYLAND: No, that's one of those moments I'm going to enjoy when it's all over.

Thank you very much, and last, but not least, I want to congratulate Jackie Autry. I know she was fired up about this. She said that.

And I also want to, last but not least, thank Phyllis Merhige for doing an unbelievable job of picking my team. We went through a lot of tough times ‑‑ and I can't tell you what this lady has done for us and for the American League, and I mean that sincerely, and I'm not being funny. (Laughter.)