Charlie Manuel talks Philly, fans, and a lot more
Amid raucous applause and "Charlie" chants, Charlie Manuel sat down at Ponzio's Diner, home of The Charlie Manuel Show - for the last time with 94 WIP. He needed little nudging to say endlessly positive things about the Phillies, Philadelphia, and the fans.
Jim Thome even surprised him as a guest over the phone.
"This is nothing new, Charlie and I talk about every other day anyway," Thome said. "It's great to come on, obviously, everybody know how I feel about Charlie, as the whole city of Philadelphia does."
"From my end, I can see why they love him. To be honest with you, since I was 18 years old, I've loved him. I think there's always somebody in your career that you can look back on and say they had an instrumental part in your career. For me, he meant everything. He taught me how to play the game, how to play it the right way. We spent hours amongst hours and hours on our hitting. I told him a week ago what his legacy in the Philadelphia area is going to mean. He's a great man, a great baseball man. I got to him a lot because I still try to soak information up from him."
"How many home runs you gonna hit?" Charlie asked, echoing an exchange they'd had when Thome was 19.
"I know the answer to that," Thome replied. "As many as I want to."
They shared a laugh. "We'll get together soon in Florida," Charlie said.
On his reception at the diner:
"I find that amazing. I find it amazing that someone would want to come out and see me, but at the same time, I love every bit of it. I love everything about the nines years I’ve been here. The last couple years have been kind of tough, but that’s part of it, that’s part of trying to grind it out and stay alive, but what happened the other day, that’s part of baseball too."
On his skill of interaction:
"When I started out in high school, I used to talk a lot. I used to tell people how good I was. IU used to enjoy all that. I used to tell somebody I was gonna score 30 points. I might have to shoot a lot of times, but I’d score 30. That was kinda what I had to do, that motivates me. But it helps me relax, too."
"My first at-bat in the NL, Johnny Bench was catching. I go up to hit, and it’s a big moment in the game… I walk up to the plate and Jack Billingham’s pitching, and Bench is back there, I kept talking to him."
"'Shut up and get in the box,' he said. 'It’s been a long time since I seen you and you’re still talking.' And Billingham threw me a curveball and I got a base hit and knocked in the winning run."
"When I first came here, I stayed downtown, especially in my first season in the front office. I like it, Missy loves, she’ll miss it probably a lot more than I will, because I’ll get me golf club or a fishing pole and I’ll be okay.
"But everything about these last nine years has been absolutely tremendous; I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The people of Philadelphia and Jersey and this part of the country have been absolutely great to me. I feel very comfortable here. I just enjoyed it. I’ve been in this house now for nine years and we’re packing all these boxes and everything up. I’ve been renting that house because I've been thinking one of these years I wasn’t gonna make it."
"The other day I told some of those guys after I went back down, I said, there are two things that make me mad. This is a bad year to be a lame duck. I grew up in a town called Buena Vista. On either side of town, there’s a picture of me. And they told me when I get fired they’re gonna take the picture down."
On managing and playing in Philadelphia:
"I can’t believe it, really. There’s story after story after story. The fans they definitely get into it. The media really gets into it. I tell you one thing, moving target’s hard to hit, boy you better keep moving in this line of job. Without a doubt, the greatest fans in the world, and I’ll tell you why, I’ve been a lot of places. When you say you’re gonna hold somebody accountable, when our fans come to the ballpark and they support the Phillies and the job they do… they make heroes out of our guys, if they’re to get on your, they’ve earned the right to get on you."
"Vuke used to tell me all the time “This guy can’t play in Philly, that guy can’t play in Philly.” I thought, ‘He’s a Major League player, he can play anywhere.’ But it’s true."
"You guys are louder, you’re [interact] with the team more, and you definitely press for the team to meet your expectations. I like everything about that."
On the Phillies' success and near misses:
"Winning the game was our number one priority, and that was for five years. To keep a team intact that long and focused for that long, that's saying a lot about the players, and going deep into the post seasom like that is big for the players becasue they play a whole lot of baseball."
"The only thing that would have made it better is if we'd won more."
"Of course we went to two World Series and went deep one year when the Giants beat us, when Uribe hit the home run, that's what happens in close games. We could have had a guy that hit that home run, but we didn't, and they did."
On Jimmy Rollins:
"When we were in our hayday, what people forget about Jimmy... the better our team is, the better Jimmy plays. Jimy is the kind of guy that when you're playing real good, he can definitely put you over the hump."
"He likes the spotlight, and the show, but at the saem time, when we're struggling, that's when HJimmy will get down a little bit. He's always been very cooperative, he's on board with me, I should say. He's never really faulted me over nothing. Sometimes when he doesn't run hard to first base, he gets a lot of criticism, and I'm big guy on hustle and be on time. But if you really stop and think and you really watch the game, you watch how many guys run hard to first base, and you'll find a bigger percentage that don't than do."
"If you're gonna criticize Jimmy Rollins, then criticize those other guys that don't run."