In 1980, Ruben Amaro Sr. signed Juan Samuel out of the Dominican Republic to be a Phillie. Thirty years later, Ruben Amaro Jr. has hired Samuel to be the Phillies' third-base coach.
"It's like a dream come true," Samuel said.
Samuel, 49, will be the third-base coach and outfield instructor for the Phillies. That means Sam Perlozzo moves across the diamond to become the team's first-base coach.
But the most intriguing part of Thursday's news is how the Phillies will handle their baserunning program going forward. With Davey Lopes gone because the two sides couldn't agree on a 2011 salary, the Phillies lose the guy who "might be the best base stealing coach around," as Manuel says.
Manuel, who spoke on a conference call in his car while on top of a mountain in North Carolina, said he was confident in Perlozzo's abilities.
"When I talked to Sam on the phone, I could see how much he was interested in being a base running coach again," Manuel said.
"He was so excited about doing that. It definitely played into my decision. Knowing Sam, as hard of a worker he is and a teacher. I think Sam has his motor running again. Our base running is going to be fine."
Under Lopes, the Phillies had the best base-stealing percentage in the majors. Lopes had complete control of the running program, with the ability to send runners during a game whenever he wanted. That's the amount of trust Manuel had in Lopes.
The manager said Perlozzo could be entrusted with the same amount of responsibilities. That will be discussed in spring training.
"More than likely it may happen," Manuel said. "He's very knowledgable."
Manuel said he has spoken to just three Phillies people since the season ended -- Amaro, Perlozzo and Samuel. Samuel and he had a long conversation Wednesday night that sealed the deal.
Manuel said Amaro had targeted Samuel a good while back and he was No. 1 on their list of potential coaching additions.
"He's a perfectionist," Manuel said. "He has a tremendous passion and that's why I like him on our staff."
Samuel played seven seasons with the Phillies (1983-89) and was enshrined on the club’s Wall of Fame in 2008. He is the 34th man in Phillies history to both play and coach for the team.
The rest of the coaching staff -- Mick Billmeyer (bullpen), Rich Dubee (pitching), Greg Gross (hitting), Pete Mackanin (bench) -- will be retained for the 2011 season. The entire staff operates on one-year contracts.
Gross took over in July for Milt Thompson, who coincidentally was hired Thursday as a minor-league instructor with the Houston Astros. Thompson had interviewed there for the hitting coach job but was not hired for that. Instead, he will coordinate outfield and baserunning in the Astros' farm system.
Read more in Friday's Inquirer about Samuel and his return to Philadelphia.