Thursday, July 1, 2010
An Inside Look At Jerry Manuel: What Makes Him Tick?
On December 23, 1953, Mr. and Mrs Lorenzo Manuel welcomed their fourth son into the world. It was on this date that Mets manager Jerry Manuel was brought into the world.
Jerry was the fourth of son of seven children; three older brothers and two younger sisters. He was born in Cecil, Georgia in a small ranch style house with a porch in front. Something reminiscent of Navin Johnson's (Steve Martin) house in the hit movie The Jerk.
Manuel's father was an Air Force man, also performed odd jobs to help make ends meet to support his family. Lorenzo was also a pitcher for a barnstorming team that traveled around the south, where the Negro Leagues were prevalent, prior to Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier.
According to Jerry: _________________________________________________________________
"Mother told me I used to go to my father's games and mimic him by the foul line while people yelled, 'Hey! Get that boy off the field.' I remember my dad would come back from playing with stories about Cool Papa Bell and how fast he was. And Satchel Paige, of course. Jackie Robinson, too." _________________________________________________________________
Regardless of how busy life was, especially in such a small dwelling, the Manuel family always made sure they had dinner together as a family.
It is from these humble beginnings that helps Manuel keep perspective.
In Johnette Howard's article in ESPN New York, she enlightens us into Jerry's calm demeanor. Manuel laments that his perspective "absolutely" comes from Cecil. Manuel continued: ________________________________________________________________
"Looking at the place now, it may look like there were difficult times, they were also some of the best times in my life, too, you know?" _________________________________________________________________
It is from these humble experiences that has allowed Manuel to be able to handle to burning cauldron known as New York.
From all the talk about his job being on the line, Jerry has always been able to handle the NY media with tact and class. To him, although maybe stressful, it isn't the end of the world.
Jerry's attitude is: ______________________________________________________________
"I approach it like I'm here to manage this team for a 162-game season." _______________________________________________________________
And his players have his back. Newly acquired Left Fielder Jason Bay said: ___________________________________________________________
"He's pretty much been on the hot seat since the season started. He works in a place where smaller things always seem to get turned into bigger things. And you know, I don't know how it is for him when he's alone. I'm sure it's no cakewalk. But around us here in the clubhouse, in the dugout, he's the most positive manager I've ever been around. Believe me, that goes a long way in this game and in a long season. You can't be that way unless you have character and principles." ____________________________________________________________
Jerry will never be considered a great strategist when it comes to in game moves, especially with the pitching staff, but one thing cannot not be overlooked: Manuel has kept this team together, playing hard, despite the injuries to Carlos Beltran, John Maine, Oliver Perez and the early season struggles and thyroid issues of Jose Reyes.
The Mets are now 1.5 games behind division leading Atlanta, and Jerry's ability to have his team play hard for him is a key reason.
Who out there would have thought the Mets would be 10 games over .500 at this point? They have gotten some great play from some unknowns (Pagan, J. Feliciano, Davis), as well as a nice bounce back season from such players as Wright and Reyes. The common denominator is the calm leadership of Manuel that has his players ready to walk through the fires of Hell for him.
Sources: ESPN New York, Baseball Reference, CBS Sportsline