Already a World Series champion and three-time Manager of the Year, Jim Leyland, who played American Legion Baseball for Pemberville Freedom Post 183 in Ohio, added to his résumé on Wednesday night by leading Team USA to a gold medal at the World Baseball Classic.
He then dedicated the win to the men and women serving in the armed forces.
“I don’t know what to say,” Leyland told the MLB Network while holding back tears. “I got a chance to manage for our country, the coaches got a chance to coach for our country, the players got a chance to play for our country, but this is for the people who serve our country.”
The skipper navigated Team USA to its best result on the world stage since winning a gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
After a thrilling run to Wednesday’s final, Team USA dominated the championship game in Los Angeles, topping Puerto Rico, 8-0, in front of 51,565 fans.
Leyland assembled the team with the help of chief baseball officer Joe Torre.
An Air National Guard veteran, Torre played American Legion Baseball and was inducted into the Major League Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2015, he received The American Legion’s James V. Day “Good Guy Award.”
Torre and Leyland included some other prominent Legion alums on the Team USA roster for the event.
Among the honorees were Alex Bregman (New Mexico), Brett Cecil (Maryland), David Robertson (Alabama) and Drew Smyly (Arkansas).