Many forget that someone has to be behind all the success a team can have and that it’s not always just the players, but also the man behind the madness. That is the skipper. The Detroit Tigers have been blessed with very effective and fan-favorite managers in their history who have led teams on memorable and unforgettable runs. Here are your Top 5 managers in Detroit Tigers history.
#5 – Mayo Smith (1967-1970)
Mayo Smith took the managerial job for the Tigers in 1967 and led the team to a 91-71 record in his first year. Then the magical 1968 season rolled around, and we all know that ended with a World Series title. Smith would coach another two seasons after that and end up with a solid record of 363-285. Although he didn’t stay long, he won a championship and was pretty successful in four years as a manager.
#4- Hughie Jennings (1907-1920)
Many probably have never heard of Hughie Jennings, but he led the Tigers to 3 straight American League Pennants (1907-1909) as a manager. Jennings had the honor to play with and manage Ty Cobb, which is something that is seemingly unheard of. Jennings played six times as a player during his 14-year tenure as manager. Once he was all done in Detroit, Jennings accumulated over 1,100 wins behind the bench good for 2nd most in franchise history.
#3- Mickey Cochrane (1934-1938)
Mickey Cochrane (a hall of famer) may be one of the most unique managers in MLB history, mostly for the fact that while he was manager, he was also playing- and not just a few games, almost every game. The first year Cochrane was a player-manager (1934), he led the Tigers to an AL championship, and then a World Series win in 1935, the team’s first. It is seemingly unheard of now for a player to both manage and win a World Series.
#2- Jim Leyland (2006-2013)
Yes, I put him here because not only did he turn an entire baseball team around, but also holds a love of the City of Detroit. Jim Leyland was named manager in 2006, and he totally transformed the team, which was coming off a 43-119 season just 3 years prior in 2003. (72-90 in 2004, 71-91 in 2005). The 2006 team won the AL pennant and made it to the World Series. He transformed a team nobody expected to contend. Leyland would lead the Tigers to another AL championship in 2012, along with winning 700 career games with the cats. Although he never did win the World Series as a manager with the Tigers, he set the tone for the Tigers.
#1- Sparky Anderson (1979-1995)
No surprise here. He was, he is, and probably forever will be, the most beloved manager in the History of the Tigers. When Sparky Anderson arrived in Detroit in 1979, he had a promise: to bring a World Series championship to the D in 5 years. He backed that up, winning the World Series in 1984 in a year of complete dominance. Sparky always put good teams out there in the ’80s for the Tigers, who fell just short of getting back to the World Series in 1987. Anderson stuck with the Tigers until 1995 and won over 1300 games as skipper, the most in franchise history. He was the heart and soul of the Tigers, and although he is sadly no longer with us, his spirit and love for baseball and the city of Detroit live on to this day through the fans and their memories.