Charlie Manuel

From BR Bullpen


Charles Fuqua Manuel
(The Grinder, Aka Oni [Red Devil])
played as Chuck Manuel

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Biographical Information[edit]


Charlie Manuel has spent over 40 years in professional baseball. He won one minor league batting title and hit well at several stops, but failed to produce in limited opportunities in the major leagues. Going on to Japan, he won two home run titles in the Pacific League. His personality made him a larger-than-life character in the world of Japanese baseball. He was involved in one famous beanball incident, hit a key home run in the 1979 Japan Series and became the second American to be named MVP of the Pacific League. He later became a successful hitting coach. He managed the division-champion 2001 Indians and managed the Philadelphia Phillies to second-place finishes in back-to-back seasons before winning a division title in 2007 and the 2008 World Series.

Chuck Manuel in high school and the low minors[edit]

Charlie Manuel was signed by the Minnesota Twins as an amateur free agent in 1963 after an impressive high school athletic career in which he lettered in basketball, football, baseball and track. The 6' 4" lad was an MVP in basketball twice and baseball once and was the captain of both teams. Chuck broke into professional baseball with the Wytheville Twins, hitting .358 with 7 homers and 45 RBI, finishing in the top 10 in the Appalachian League in all three Triple Crown statistics and in the top five in both average and RBI. The next year, he advanced to the Orlando Twins and fell to .265 with 4 long balls. Things got even worse in 1965 as the 21-year-old batted .225 with 1 homer for Orlando and .204 with no homers for the Wilson Tobs. Playing a full year for Wilson in 1966, Manuel's average rose a bit to .231 and he launched six home runs. His career had been relatively stagnant for three years in A ball and many teams might have given up, ending Chuck's career before it began.

Manuel breaks out of the class A rut[edit]

Minnesota stuck with him and sent him for a fourth year in Class A, now with the Wisconsin Rapids Twins. He finally solved that level - at age 23 he put up a .313/~.406/.514 line, hit 15 home runs and drove in 70 runners. He tied Jim Williams for the Midwest League RBI lead, was 2 homers behind Williams for the home run lead and won the batting title. He also led the league in total bases (205) and runs (76). He had successfully revitalized his career. On the downside, he lost 10 teeth, broke his nose and fractured his jaw when Jerry Reuss hit him with a fastball one game. In 1968 he made it to AA and hit .283 with 13 homers and 79 RBI for the Charlotte Hornets and tied for third in the Southern League in runs batted in.

Chuck's big league and AAA career[edit]

Despite never having played in AAA, Manuel was invited to spring training with the Twins in 1969 and had a great spring. He even "called" a home run successfully in one game. His performance allowed him to reach the Twins' major league squad out of training camp. An ankle injury left him unavailable most of the year and he struggled upon returning, including one 0-for-36 stretch as he fell from .266 before August, finishing at .207/.320/.280 with 2 homers and 24 RBI. Manuel was named to the Twins' ALCS roster that year. He struggled in his next 4 years with the Twins, not even appearing in a major league game in 1973. In most seasons he shuttled between the majors and AAA, spending a good deal of time on the farm. He lit up the Pacific Coast League during his 1971 visit, posting a .372/~.464/.764 line and homering 19 times in just 63 games for the Portland Beavers. The 1973 full-season stay came with the Tacoma Twins and he hit .274/~.306/.484 with 16 homers. When in the majors, he was usually used as a pinch-hitter; in 1970 he pinch-hit 52 times in his 59 games. The Minnesota outfield boasted Tony Oliva and Bob Allison plus some other decent major-leaguers.

In 1974 Manuel was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with catcher Glenn Ezell for outfielders Jim Fairey and Mike Floyd. Manuel got limited opportunities with the Dodgers, only playing 19 major league games over 2 years, going 3 for 18 with no home runs. Not noted for his fielding, the lumbering outfielder didn't play a single inning in the field in his two trips with the Dodgers, being used exclusively as a pinch-hitter, a difficult role. At age 30 at the end of that time, he was no longer a prospect. He did continue to light up AAA though - in 1974 he hit .329/~.440/.596. The late bloomer smacked 30 home runs and drove in 102 runs, while coaxing 80 walks. The Pacific Coast League was a high-octane league at the time, so Charlie didn't lead the league in anything (or come very close); he still made the PCL's All-Star team. In 1975 he returned to the Albuquerque Dukes for a second season and hit .326/~.423/.601 in 81 games and made the All-Star team as a DH. Despite some impressive seasons in the high minors, Chuck's big-league line was a cumulative .198/.273/.260 for a 51 OPS+. He hit .287/~.367/.474 in 979 games in the minor leagues.


Manuel goes to Japan[edit]

After being let go by the Dodgers, Manuel signed with the Yakult Swallows of the NPB. Manuel struggled in his first year with the Swallows, only batting .243/.324/.388 with 11 HR and 32 RBI. He was again limited by injuries and struggled with the Japanese strike zone. Despite that inauspicious start, Manuel returned and quickly achieved success in 1977, batting .316/.403/.690 with 42 HR and 97 RBI. He was 8 homers and 16 slugging points behind league leader Sadaharu Oh and homered every 8.5 AB. Yakult finished second for the first time ever. In his final year with the club, Manuel continued to shine with the Swallows, batting .312/.372/.596 with 39 HR and 103 RBI and was elected to his first Best Nine squad, making it as an outfielder; he was five homers behind league leader Koji Yamamoto. From June 1 through June 5, he hit in 10 consecutive at-bats, setting a new Central League record; it would be broken 13 years later by R.J. Reynolds. The media fed off of Chuck's playboy lifestyle, where "[h]is escapades allegedly started early in the evening and concluded right up to the pre-game warm-ups." Chuck even was pictured in Japanese comic books, using his bat to fight giant snakes. One of the most famous incidents involving Manuel was when he, Clyde Wright and Roger Repoz fought the East German hockey team in a Japanese bar (the Americans clearly lost the brawl). The Swallows won their first-ever Central League pennant in 1978 and his Game 7 Japan Series home run gave Yakult the victory. He hit .296/.367/.630 in the 1978 Japan Series with three homers.

While a hero to fans, Manuel did not get along well with Yakult's management. Tatsuro Hirooka did not like Charlie's refusal to participate in drills, for not shining his spikes, for eating fast food and for his poor outfield defense. The coaches, especially Kanji Maruyama, were irritated when Chuck called them by their first names. Robert Whiting describes Manuel in those days as "a big, red-haired character from West Virginia...with a talent for producing anarchy out of order." Citing "quality control measures", Yakult sent him to the Kintetsu Buffaloes, despite his having led the club to its greatest success ever.

The Kintetsu Buffaloes years and the final season as a player[edit]

In his first year with the Buffaloes, he was allowed to become a full-time DH. He homered 24 times in the first two months and Kintetsu, which had never won a Pacific League title, was in first place. Soroku Yagisawa hit him with a 90-mph fastball at that point and he had a broken jaw, broken nose and lost ten teeth. Charlie blamed Yagisawa, insisting that he had good control and intentionally threw at him. One sportswriter insisted that the Japanese pitchers were concerned that Manuel might break some records. Unable to eat solid food yet, Charlie still made it back into the lineup by August and he won the Pacific League MVP, batting .324/.434/.712 with 37 HR and 94 RBI. Despite the time off, he led the league in both slugging percentage and homers. He was the second American and first American position player to win PL MVP, following Joe Stanka in 1964. Kintetsu won their first pennant ever. Manuel hit .391/.481/.522 in the 1979 Japan Series.

In 1980 Manuel had a nearly identical year minus the injuries, batting .325/.400/.673 with 48 HR and 129 RBI and was elected to his third and last Best Nine squad. He again led in home runs and also topped the Pacific League in RBI and slugging, and the Buffaloes won their second straight pennant. The team's administration, fans and the media all turned sour on Chuck after he left in mid-year to attend the high school graduation of his son. Such a move was very unpopular in Japanese baseball culture.

Despite having a career year, Manuel was let go by the Buffaloes due to the cultural issues and re-signed with the Swallows in 1981 (Hirooka was gone), where he struggled, batting .260/.343/.447 with 12 HR and 36 RBI. Manuel retired after batting .303/.385/.604 with 189 long balls and 491 RBI in his NPB career. Overall he had hit 310 homers as a professional baseball player. Chuck would later state that his time in Japan taught him a fair amount about coaching tactics.

As a scout and minor league manager for the Twins[edit]

After retiring as a player, Chuck was hired as a scout by the Twins. His salary fell from $250,000 a year to $20,000 but Manuel said he appreciated the reduced stress and expectations. He also worked as a roving batting instructor for the Minnesota system. When Kirby Puckett, in his first year in pro ball, asked Manuel when Chuck worked with other players and not him and inquired "Charlie, don't you like black guys?", Manuel replied that he would rather work with the players who needed help, whereas Kirby did not need any assistance with his hitting and should keep doing what he was doing. He made his managerial debut in the Twins organization in 1983 and managed there for five seasons.

On to the Indians organization[edit]

In 1988 Manuel became hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians, a role he kept for two years. From 1990 through 1992 he was the skipper of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, where his offense-friendly style led to the usage of the term "Charlie Ball". In 1993, Chuck managed the Charlotte Knights and led them to the International League title, also managing the IL All-Star team.

Manuel served a second stint as the hitting coach for the Indians for many years during the 1990s, starting in 1994. Jim Thome and other star Indians batters attributed their success to Chuck's coaching. In 1997 Cleveland set a club home run record. His health declined in 1998 as he lost 40 pounds in a short time, had a heart attack and had quadruple bypass surgery. Five weeks later, he was back in the dugout.


As a major league manager[edit]

Charlie became the Indians' manager in 2000 and the team went 90-72. He had a ruptured colon in spring training and had surgery once more. Ejected from two of the first three games, he banned card playing in the clubhouse and took away the Ping-Pong table when his team was struggling as he felt the players were too distracted. The Indians won the AL Central Division title in Manuel's second year at the helm. He was let go partway through the 2002 season after a slow start.

He joined the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003 as a special assistant in order to persuade protege Jim Thome to sign with them. Thome's close ties with Manuel had been well-known for a decade and some describe the relationship as a father and son. Two years later, in 2005, Charlie became the Phillies manager and guided the team to 88 wins and a second-place finish. Philadelphia again finished second in 2006, winning 85 games; it was considered a disappointment by some who had predicted that the club would win a pennant. In 2007, the Phillies did finish in first place, one game ahead of the New York Mets, with a 89-73 record, after having trailed them by 7 games with only 17 games to play. It was Philadelphia's first division title and postseason appearance since 1993.

Manuel guided the 2008 Phillies to the second World Series title in franchise history, winning the 2008 World Series 4 games to 1 over the Tampa Bay Rays. He returned to the World Series in 2009, once again winning a division title and besting the Dodgers in the NLCS. The Phillies failed to repeat as World Champions, losing the 2009 World Series to the New York Yankees in six games. The Phillies won their fourth straight division title in 2010, but after sweeping the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS, they fell to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. They made it five in a row in 2011 when they set a franchise record with 102 wins, but the season ended in disappointment as they were upset by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. The Cards went on to win the World Series, for which the Phillies had been the favorites before the start of the postseason.

Age and injuries caught up to the team over the next two seasons, as the Phillies fell back to playing around .500 in 2012 and 2013. A rare highlight for Manuel came on August 12, 2013, when he won his 1,000th game as a big league manager. Just days later, on August 16th, he was fired and replaced as manager by Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. The Phillies had lost 19 of their last 24 games since the All-Star break. He left the team as its all-time leader in wins by a manager, with 780 in his 9 seasons. After the dust settled, Manuel returned to the Phillies' organization the following January as a senior adviser to General Manager Ruben Amaro. On August 13, 2019 he was named the team's interim hitting coach, replacing John Mallee until the end of the season.

He first came under consideration by the Hall of Fame in 2019, when he was on the ballot composed of prominent individuals from the "Today's Game" era to be considered by the Veterans Committee.

Manuel's stepson Collin Martin played in the minors then became a college coach.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • Division Titles: 6 (2002 & 2007-2011)
  • NL Pennants: 2 (2008 & 2009)
  • 100 Wins Seasons as Manager: 1 (2011)
  • Managed one World Series Champion with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008

Preceded by
Mike Hargrove
Cleveland Indians Manager
Succeeded by
Joel Skinner
Preceded by
Gary Varsho
Philadelphia Phillies Manager
Succeeded by
Ryne Sandberg

Sources include Mendoza's Heroes by Al Pepper, You Gotta Have Wa by Robert Whiting, Remembering Japanese Baseball by Rob Fitts, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, by Gary Garland, 1969, 1972 and 1974-1976 Baseball Guides

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1983 Wisconsin Rapids Twins Midwest League 71-67 5th (t) Minnesota Twins
1984 Orlando Twins Southern League 79-65 2nd Minnesota Twins Lost playoff
1985 Orlando Twins Southern League 72-71 6th Minnesota Twins
1986 Toledo Mud Hens International League 62-77 6th Minnesota Twins
1987 Portland Beavers Pacific Coast League 45-96 10th Minnesota Twins
1990 Colorado Springs Sky Sox Pacific Coast League 39-33 3rd Cleveland Indians Lost in 1st round Replaced Bob Molinaro (37-34) on June 22
1991 Colorado Springs Sky Sox Pacific Coast League 72-67 4th Cleveland Indians Lost in 1st round
1992 Colorado Springs Sky Sox Pacific Coast League 84-57 1st Cleveland Indians League Champs
1993 Charlotte Knights International League 86-55 1st Cleveland Indians League Champs Int'l League Manager of the Year
2000 Cleveland Indians American League 90-72 2nd Cleveland Indians
2001 Cleveland Indians American League 91-71 1st Cleveland Indians Lost ALDS
2002 Cleveland Indians American League 39-47 -- Cleveland Indians replaced by Joel Skinner on July 11
2005 Philadelphia Phillies National League 88-74 2nd Philadelphia Phillies
2006 Philadelphia Phillies National League 85-77 2nd Philadelphia Phillies
2007 Philadelphia Phillies National League 89-73 1st Philadelphia Phillies Lost NLDS
2008 Philadelphia Phillies National League 92-70 1st Philadelphia Phillies Won World Series
2009 Philadelphia Phillies National League 93-69 1st Philadelphia Phillies Lost World Series
2010 Philadelphia Phillies National League 97-65 1st Philadelphia Phillies Lost NLCS
2011 Philadelphia Phillies National League 102-60 1st Philadelphia Phillies Lost NLDS
2012 Philadelphia Phillies National League 81-81 3rd Philadelphia Phillies
2013 Philadelphia Phillies National League 53-67 - Philadelphia Phillies Replaced by Ryne Sandberg on August 16

Further Reading[edit]

  • Bob Nightengale: "Phillies go old-school by bringing back 75-year-old Charlie Manuel to save season", USA Today, August 13, 2019. [1]

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