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Twenty-four-hour, all-sports radio stations have had an interesting few weeks trying to come up with new topics to discuss when there are literally no new topics in sports to discuss. One program I heard recently on Philadelphia’s 94 WYSP (the station where I covered the Eagles for eight years) did bring up a Baseball Hall of Fame discussion, which led to a debate on who should and should not be in. Among the names discussed includes one of the most positive personalities that I have ever met.
I have met, talked with and interviewed hundreds of very interesting head coaches in my day.
Among the professional head coaches and managers that I have interviewed: Doug Peterson, Andy Reid, Ray Rhodes, Larry Bowa, Gabe Kapler, Ryne Sandberg, Brett Brown, Mo Cheeks, Larry Brown … to name a few. But I would be hard- pressed to find a more genuine and likeable pro sports coaching personality than former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
When I (and just about any other media member—save Howard Eskin) have had a chance to speak with Charlie about, well, anything, he was as accepting and as gracious as any person you could ever find. He treated all members of the media the same and never gave anyone a hard time for a question he didn’t particularly like…something you can’t often say when dealing with people who have accomplished as much in a career as Manuel did.
In the Delaware Valley, he’s now a legend. Winning a World Series will do that for most managers.
Manuel was on a list of 10 candidates but fell short of being elected into The Hall last December by the new “Today’s Game Era Committee,” and Phillies fans have been making a push for his name to return—with even more support—again to this year’s ballot.
Sadly, if pressed for an answer, I would have to agree that Manuel should NOT be enshrined, and if I was on any of the groups that have that power (of which there are too many—which is a subject for another blog entry) I’m afraid I would not vote him in.
A look at the facts…
Manuel won just one World Series. In all, he won six league division titles and two pennants—all with seriously loaded offensive lineups. While his ability to reach and connect with players, both on and off the field, was one of his best attributes, it’s hard to quantify that into the numbers game that is so key to getting that extra boost necessary to put you into the elite that is found in Cooperstown.
Instead, Manuel will more likely be remembered for that likeable, good-natured human being trait that I mentioned at the outset of this passage, than any extraordinary number or statistic you could provide in his defense.
The Hall of Fame is a place reserved for strictly the best of the best, based purely in terms of the game of baseball at the highest level and the Shrine is filled with people who had less than admirable personality traits.
Perhaps then, it is only fitting that Charlie will probably not be among them.