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Detroit Tigers Leyland T-Shirt

T-shirt controversy! Bar owner sells t-shirt of Detroit Tiger’s baseball manager Jim Leyland smoking a cigarette. Cigarettes are bad for your health. Baseball is not.

Detroit — A downtown bar will keep selling T-shirts that feature the likeness of Tigers manager Jim Leyland wearing an Old English D cap until the team’s legal department delivers documents saying it can’t.

Grosse Pointe Park native Louis Colombo, owner of The Dirty Trick at Woodward and East Adams, said Tuesday afternoon he can’t produce enough shirts of Leyland with a lit cigarette dangling from the left side of his mouth to meet the demand he has received from across the country in the past 24 hours.

“I never thought people would get on board with this like they have,” said Colombo, a married father of seven children and Tigers season ticket holder. “We’re getting calls from people in Arkansas.

“I’m not a clothier; I sell booze. Right now, everyone is talking about my bar — 10 days before Opening Day.”

The buzz over a $22 T-shirt — not authorized for sale by the Tigers — could end soon, though, because the team’s law department is expected to deliver Colombo a cease-and-desist order this week.

The Dirty Trick opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday, the time sales of the shirt are expected to resume.

Colombo, however, has a feeling he could be greeted at the door Tuesday by a team official with the order, forcing him to likely tweak the shirt’s design so his business can avoid a lawsuit.

“If we get the order, we’ll work toward a solution,” said Colombo, whose bar began Monday night taking shirt orders over the phone. “Our plan would be to take the D from our bar logo and put it on Leyland’s hat.”

That’s one option, but Colombo might be forced to do more tweaking because a representative of the Tigers’ legal team told him the team also has a problem with the fact an image resembling Leyland is on the shirt.

“As an employee of the Detroit Tigers, they will be representing the manager,” said Colombo, reiterating what he said a team official told him.

It’s unclear what Leyland thinks of the shirts.

It’s no secret Leyland smokes. Leyland’s pal, longtime manager Tony La Russa, told The News in February that his goal for Detroit’s manager heading into the season was for Leyland to quit the habit.

“My goals are to get him to eat tofu and stop smoking,” La Russa said of Leyland, who coached on La Russa’s staff with the White Sox in the early 1980s.

Leyland, at the time, found plenty of humor in his friend’s comments.

“You guys don’t know it,” said Leyland, “but I didn’t start smoking until I coached for him.”

Colombo said the bar sold about $500 worth of Leyland shirts during the Tigers’ playoff run last fall, and has received positive reviews from Tigers players, opposing players and visitors of the bar who claim to be Leyland’s relatives.

The shirts have been flying off the shelves so fast this week, Colombo doesn’t know how many the bar has sold.
The Detroit News, March 27, 2012

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