DETROIT -- Jim Leyland knew as far back as June that this was going to be his last season managing the Detroit Tigers.
He made up his mind by September, when he told president/general manager Dave Dombrowski his decision.
He told his players after the season ended Saturday night in Fenway Park and made it official on Monday morning at Comerica Park in a press conference.
Leyland is stepping down after eight seasons as manager to take another, as-yet-undetermined position with the organization.
"When it's time, it's time ... and it's time," Leyland said during a news conference with Dombrowski at his side.
Pitching coach Jeff Jones was in attendance, along with players Don Kelly and Torii Hunter.
In eight seasons as manager, Leyland helped the Tigers win three consecutive division titles and two American League pennants. The Tigers also made four appearances in the American League Championship Series.
He guided the Tigers to the World Series in 2006 and again in 2012.
"What's gone on here has been unbelievable," Leyland said. "We've won a lot of games. We've had a lot of seats filled. We've had a lot of no-hitters, MVPs, Cy Youngs, This doesn't happen, so enjoy it."
Leyland's announcement to step down came two days after the Tigers were eliminated from the ALCS by the Boston Red Sox in six games.
Leyland, who has worked under one-year contracts the past few seasons, said he had contemplated this being his final season since June. He asked to meet for coffee with Dombrowski in Kansas City on Sept. 7 to tell him.
"The conversation basically went like this," Leyland said. "I said, 'Dave, I don't know what your plans are for next year.' He said, 'Well, you're my manager.' I said, 'Well, I'm not going to be the manager.' "
Leyland, 68, said he was asked back but said he was "low on fuel" and said the trips were getting rough. He said he told the players following Saturday's loss, but didn't want the decision to become public until after the weekend out of respect to the Red Sox.
"I didn't know how to take it when they clapped," Leyland joked.
Leyland said telling the players wasn't emotional. He said there were some touching moments, including hearing Justin Verlander say he loved him.
Hunter said Leyland was emotional all season, so he wasn't totally surprised.
"You're talking about one of the best managers to ever manage in this game," Hunter said. "When he looks back, he can say he gave it all he got."
Hunter said Leyland deserves to "sit back, relax, go to the beach and smoke a cigarette." He called him "a legend" and said he'll tell his grandchildren "I played for the great Jim Leyland."
Don Kelly said he was surprised when broke the news to the team.
"As the season went on, it wasn't like you noticed he was tired," Kelly said. "He still had that passion, that fire, that drive."
Leyland said other than Dombrowski, the only other people he told since September were his wife, bench coach Gene Lamont and former manager Tony La Russa.
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Leyland was 700-597 with the Tigers. He led the Tigers to the World Series in 2006, losing to La Russa's St. Louis Cardinals in five games. The Tigers went back to the World Series in 2012 and were swept by the San Francisco Giants.
Leyland did apologize multiple times during the press conference for not winning a World Series for the Tigers and owner Mike Ilitch. But he didn't blame anyone. He said "collectively" the team didn't get it done.
"This one hurt bad, because I thought we let one get away," Leyland said. "This is one that's going to stick with me."
Leyland, who is usually emotional, got choked up when he thanked the front office. He said he could never ask for a better owner than Ilitch. He said he was proud to be involved in the game for 50 years and for being loyal to his players.
"I've protected my players to a fault," Leyland said. "I hope that's something that I take to my grave. That's just the way it is."
For all the success Leyland had, fans seemed to love to hate him for all sorts of reasons, for his loyalty to players to his daily lineups to his decisions on who and when to bring in relief pitchers and for his postgame TV appearances, where he often answered questions while eating.
Only Sparky Anderson (1,331) and Hughie Jennings (1,131) had more wins as manager of the Tigers.
Leyland and Jennings are the only two managers in club history to lead the club to the postseason in three or more seasons. Only Leyland, Jennings and Mickey Cochrane led the Tigers to the World Series multiple times.
Leyland took teams to the postseason eight times in his 22 seasons as a Major League manager and was 44-40 (.524) in the playoffs. He led the Pittsburgh Pirates to three straight NL East titles (1990-92) and led the 1997 Florida Marlins to a win over the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.
The Tigers finished above .500 in eight of Leyland's eight seasons. They had gone 12 years without a winning season before he arrived. The Tigers surpassed 3 million in season attendance four times in franchise history, all under Leyland (2007-2008, 2012-13).
"I came here to make talent a team, and I think we did that," he said.
Leyland is certainly leaving the team better than the one he inherited. The Tigers return a team stocked with veterans, led by two recent AL MVPs -- Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera--and the presumptive AL Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer.
"I truly think this is going to be a very good team next year," Leyland said. "But I think it would have been totally selfish on my part (to return). I think I would have been coming back for the wrong reason."
Dombrowski said he'll begin interviewing candidates soon. The contracts for the other coaches are up this month, so there could be more changes.
Leyland said if asked, he'll give advice, but won't otherwise be involved in the hiring of the new manager. He called Dombrowski the best baseball executive in the business.
"You'll be in good hands when he decides on his next manager," Leyland said of Dombrowski.
Leyland said he wanted to "remain a Tiger" and Dombrowski confirmed that a position will be created to allow that to happen. Leyland might be called upon to scout, help out at spring training, advise or represent the Tigers at public appearances.
Leyland apparently has one request.
"I think I've still got a chance to get a World Series ring here," he said. "At least I think they'll give me one if they win next year."
Leyland said he has one other hope: "This sounds kind of silly, but I hope within the next two or three years I get a chance to throw out the first pitch at Comerica Park."
He also joked he was now going to be "an official member of the Skipper's Rippers club."
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