JUPITER, Fla. — Boy, it sure would’ve been nice to be a fly on the wall at The Capital Grille in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on Monday night. That’s where Tigers manager Jim Leyland, along with Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley all sat together in what seemed like a roundtable discussion between some of the most historic winners in sports (together, they share seven championships).
But although Leyland and La Russa go way back, Detroit’s skipper found himself spending most of his time talking to Belichick. Leyland said the two had spoken many times on the phone, but never had a chance to meet — until Monday.
“The conversation went a long time — a little later than we thought it was going to be — but it was fun,” said Leyland, who expects to meet with former Indiana men’s basketball coach Bob Knight on Tuesday.
“He’s a brilliant guy and so down-to-Earth. I couldn’t have been more impressed. I was waiting for that day, to be honest with you. … He’s always been an interesting guy.”
Leyland said they mostly talked about the difference in philosophies and preparing for a game between MLB and the NFL. He also talked about the similarities between the kicker in football and the closer in baseball.
Then, Leyland told Belichick about how he could’ve been a contributor to his three Super Bowl titles.
“I told him when I was in high school I could’ve played for him,” Leyland said. “I was pretty fast. I used to run back kicks, and I used to get called for roughing the kicker.”
— Alden Gonzalez