The ultimate sign of respect is owed to a Phillies legend larger than life
Conversations revolving around who the Phillies manager should be going forwards had been foreign until recently. A rapid decline in production on the field has resulted in three managers running the show over the course of the last five seasons, each as bad as the last.
The idea of a manager controversy in Philadelphia is so foreign because over a decade ago the team made the biggest acquisition in their 135-year history.
Despite not being the popular hire, Charlie Manuel arrived in Philadelphia with a southern twang and a belly suited for Santa. He took on a team reeling from underperformance and mediocrity under the eyes of Terry Francona and Larry Bowa and led them to the ultimate prize.
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A humble Manuel took a young team needing direction and turned them into the greatest teams in franchise history. Managing the first franchise in professional sports to lose 10,000 games, Manuel won 780 of his 1,416 games.
The perfect combination of a players coach and a disciplinarian, Manuel navigated a clubhouse with more than a few characters. Benching an MVP Jimmy Rollins when necessary while also standing up for his players in press conferences or against umpires, Manuel knew the perfect time to flip the switch into whatever role was needed.
Because he’s the greatest manager on and off the field in Phillies history, the team needs to hang his number up for good.
Unlike the numbers of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino, Manuel’s number has been recirculated. Brock Stassi and Jimmy Paredes are the only players to have worn #41 since Manuel was fired in 2013, to little fault of his own.
Has the team allowed players without a defined role in the organization to wear the number with the hopes it won’t get attached to another franchise legend? Perhaps, but as we’ve learned the team can get low on numbers as they try to honor their past.
No honor is greater in a franchise than the retirement of a number, and the Phillies have the opportunity to honor Manuel. Charlie will be 74-years-old next year, and while he’s continuing to make an impact on the organization as a scout, the team owes him the honor of retiring the number now.
While the team has traditionally reserved the retirement of a number for Hall of Fame players, it’s likely they’ll buck that trend in the near future. It’s time to start the new tradition now are honor the greatest manager in Phillies history.