Brad Ausmus plays against the Boston Red Sox in 1999. Many think he'll lure more women to the Tigers' fan base. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
New Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has been hailed for his baseball savvy and intelligence.
But it was clear from the buzz following Sunday’s news conference that announced his appointment that the Tigers’ female fan base thought the new face of the franchise was easy on the eyes, too.
Ausmus’ looks won over fan Christy Gray when he was behind the plate with the Tigers in the 1990s and early 2000s. Now that he’s back in town, she thinks he could lure more women to Comerica Park to root for the home team.
“He’s easy to look at. I’m going to have to get a bobblehead,” said Gray of Rochester about the 44-year-old former Tigers catcher.
In 2008, when Ausmus was a catcher for the Houston Astros, he was the most popular subject of the Houston Chronicle’s monthly health magazine, which also featured media mainstays ex-San Diego Charger running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, according to photographer Robert Seale.
“He surfs in California during the offseason, so we shot him shirtless, wet hair, yellow surfboard, blue sky … pretty Men’s Health-ish,” Seale said in a Q&A on the American Society of Media Photographers website.
“We got tons of calls asking for prints — and it was pretty much a 50/50 response from women and men. He was teased mercilessly in the Astros locker room and he probably hates me now.”
That’s not to say fans won’t miss retired manager Jim Leyland, who stepped down following the Tigers exit in the playoffs to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.
“I mean, I guess Brad Ausmus is pretty good looking but is he Jim Leyland hot?” wrote @JessicaAmman. “I'm not so sure.”
Naturally, after eight seasons under Leyland, there was likely to be comparisons between Ausmus and him, including Leyland’s chain-smoking ways.
“So what you guys are saying is that the Tigers found a way to hire a manager that is still SMOKING,” Justin Bopp tweeted.
Ausmus, who managed the Israel national baseball team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, was special assistant to baseball operations with the San Diego Padres.
He retired with .251 batting average and played three seasons in Detroit (1996, 1999-2000).