Jerry Manuel: An American Gangsta

Phil HoopsCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2009

Jerry Manuel has been all over baseball. He has been a player, a coach, and a manager at all levels of the game. One thing is for sure, however, is that wherever Jerry goes, success follows.

Jerry began his playing career with the Detroit Tigers in 1975, as a second baseman. In his rookie season, Manuel hit for a mere .056 average in only 28 at bats.

Manuel's numbers as a player did not improve much over his seven-year playing career, and eventually he retired with a career average of .150 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in only 96 games.

From that point on, Manuel shifted from a player to a manager, and worked his way up managing the different minor league affiliates of the Montreal Expos.

Manuel's big break came in 1997 with the Florida Marlins when he was appointed bench coach under the new manager Jim Leyland. The Marlins went on to win the World Series that year.

Following an impressive stint with the Marlins, Manuel was inked by the Chicago White Sox to serve as the ballclub's manager. It was in Chicago where Manuel earned the reputation of being a wise manager.

During his six-year tenure with the Sox, Manuel led the team to well over 500 victories. His best, and perhaps most notable season, came in 2000, when the White Sox won 95 games and the American League Central Division title.

He was also named American League Manager of the Year.

Despite managing his club to an impressive 86-76 record in 2003, Manuel was let go by the organization in favor of the more animated Ozzie Guillen.

After losing out on the Cincinnati Reds job in 2004, Jerry took a break from baseball. However, later on in the year he was selected by newly acquired Mets skipper, Willie Randolph, to be the first-base coach.

In 2006, Manuel shifted over to the role of Randolph's bench coach. The Mets won the National East Division with an MLB-best 97-65 record.

Over the next year and a half the Mets' success under Randolph began to shrink. On June 17, 2008 Randolph along with a majority of his coaching staff were dismissed, and Manuel was thrust into the role of interim manager.

While this was no easy task, Manuel led the struggling ballclub to a notable 55-38 record to finish the season.

While the team did not make the post-season for the second year in a row, it was clear that Jerry knew what he was doing as he resurrected a sub-.500 team and made them contenders.

In October 2008, Manuel signed a two-year deal with an option for 2011 to remain with the Mets.

Given his track record it is only a matter of time before Jerry's magic rubs off on the Mets and leads them to the championship that has eluded them for over two decades.


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