For many Detroit Tigers fans, it was very exciting news to hear that Detroit will be getting a new manager this upcoming season. After watching three consecutive seasons filled with countless rough games, it was definitely time for some change. When looking at Ron Gardenhire’s history as a baseball player, coach, and manager, the future looks very bright for the organization.
Gardenhire was drafted in 1979 and played from 1981-1985 as an infielder for the New York Mets. Although Gardenhire often played through injury, he was known for his defensive abilities up the middle.
Only three years after he retired, he was coaching for the Twins for the Class A affiliate. He coached three total years in the minors before getting called up to the show. In his three years, he won first place twice and second once.
Gardenhire then served as the third base coach for the Minnesota Twins from 1999-2001. When coaching third base, Gardenhire was a part of high points such as their 1991 World Series Championship as well as their low points coaching during many seasons with losing records.
Gardenhire eventually got promoted and was the head coach from 2002-2014 for the Minnesota Twins. During his years as manager, Gardenhire led the Twins to six American League Central division championships. Even in his early years as a manager, Gardy was well regarded and consistently seen as a great manager.
In 2009, Gardenhire was awarded the Chuck Tanner Major League Baseball Manager of the Year Award, and he was awarded the American League Manager of the Year in 2010. Gardy was the runner-up five times and even came in third place for the American League Manager of the Year award during his first year as a manager in 2002. Gardy is one of 10 managers in Major League history who has won at least 1,000 games with one organization.
Although Gardenhire is not known for his success in the postseason, he sure knows how to lead a team and be successful during the regular season which is just what the Tigers are in need of.
Not only is Gardenhire highly credible, Tigers former Manager, Jim Leyland, told Gardy he wanted him to manage for Detroit after he retires. Leyland and Gardenhire have been good friends for a while, and Gardenhire said that Leyland was one of the managers that he talked to an awful lot.
Leyland and Gardenhire have bonded over their similar journey to manager in the MLB. They each had to pay their dues in the minors and then moving onto coaching in the majors prior to becoming head coaches.
Leyland has commented that he feels Gardenhire will thrive with the Tigers. “I just always thought that he’d be a perfect fit for a place like Detroit. I really believe that, and I think you’re going to see that come true,” said Leyland to MLB.com. Leyland and Gardenhire are both known for being aggressive and scrappy managers who aren’t afraid to question calls and get ejected from time to time.
On October 20th, Gardenhire signed a three-year contract to be the Tigers manager after a year in Phoenix as the Diamondbacks bench coach. Gardenhire definitely has what it takes to turn things around for Detroit. He is very experienced as a player, coach, and manager, and Gardy’s future with Detroit looks very promising due to his background. He is a perfect fit for this team because he has been through good times with teams but he has also been a part of teams with losing records.
During the 2017 season with the Diamondbacks, Gardenhire had to take a leave of absence to focus on his health and recover from his prostate cancer surgery. After taking some time to recover, Gardy was able to return to the Diamondbacks. While struggling with health issues, the baseball community was there for Gardenhire.
It shows his true dedication and love for the sport that he wanted to come back to coach after his health issues. Now that Gardenhire is now healthy again, it is perfect timing for him to have new beginnings with a team who desperately needs it.
My name is Jessica Verona, and I am from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I am a sophomore studying Sports Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. I have been a softball player and avid baseball fan my entire life and I will be writing for the MLB section of Sunrise Sports.