James Joseph Leyritz was born on December 17, 1963 in Lakewood, Ohio. From a young age, Jim exercised his love and natural abilities for all things athletic, especially basketball and baseball. Jim chose to pursue his baseball career after his junior year of high school and was thought to be a possible Number 1 pick in the June draft of 1982 (with his childhood friend and teammate Barry Larkin) . Unfortunately, Jim broke his foot two days before the draft and began attending Middle Georgia Jr. College. Still undrafted after two years, Jim went on to play at the University of Kentucky where he was signed as a free agent in 1985 after playing for the Jayhawk Collegiate League in Hayes, Kansas.