Charlie Manuel sits at the top of the Phillies managerial summit. With an extra-inning win Thursday against Atlanta, Manuel passed Gene Mauch with his 646th victory as a Phillies.
The laid-back hitting guru also has two pennants and a World Series title as Phillies skipper, which makes him the most successful manager in the 129-year history of the franchise.
When Manuel was hired to lead the Phillies in 2005, few envisioned the possibility that the soft-spoken players’ manager would have such an impact. Manuel wasn’t the people’s choice. Fans pined for Jim Leyland, who had a World Series title on his résumé.
“It all worked out alright,” Manuel said. “I’ve enjoyed my time here very much. I love this team, this ballpark and the Phillies fans.”
The feeling is mutual. The Phillies’ faithful are enamored of Manuel and the same goes for the players.
“Chuck is a guy you want to play for,” Vance Worley said. “You know he has your back. I love being on his team.”
Manuel attributes his success to his players.
“The core players have been here since I’ve been here,” Manuel said. “They’re great players. I’ve always had good talent wherever I’ve managed and this team has great talent.”
Brad Lidge believes that Manuel is way too modest.
“There have been teams with great players, but those teams didn’t win or get to the playoffs,” Lidge said. “Yes, we have the talent here but we also have a manager who knows how to deal with players and push the right buttons.”
Manuel hopes to add to his legacy with a memorable postseason.
“Winning a lot of regular season games is nice but I want to win the big games in October and bring another World Series title back here. That’s what it’s about.”
NLDS: A tale of two skippers
Tony LaRussa writes textbooks. Charlie Manuel goes more on gut instincts. Such is the game within the game in the NLDS.
The managers in the series are a study in contrasts. Manuel is a players’ coach, who doesn’t make excessive moves. Nobody has ever over-managed like LaRussa. The Phillies would run into a burning building for Manuel.
LaRussa, at 66, is the league’s second-oldest manager behind Manuel (67). He had kind words for older rivals, like Manuel and former Braves skipper Bobby Cox.
“You talk about high-quality guys. … They always had their team ready, played the game right. No BS.”