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By Marc M. Rayfield
Senior Vice President/Market Manager
CBS Radio/CBS Digital Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If character was measured in wins and losses, Charlie Manuel would be in that Hall of Fame too. Known to millions of Phillies fans as its most successful manager ever, there is a side to our recently exiled leader that the average fan may never know. And in this era of sports known more for cheating and arrogance than integrity, that truly is a shame.
He was responsible for providing us with a championship and many of our most memorable on field moments. But Charlie’s biggest victories actually occurred off the field and out of sight, which is the way he liked it. While it is well documented that Charlie served as a father figure to many team greats including Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels, he also treated sick children at CHOP, couples enjoying breakfast at Ponzio’s and every fan in between like they were his kids too. He treated you no matter who you were like you a were big leaguer, because Charlie Manuel simply doesn’t have any pretensions. He is as pure and unassuming as the first whiff of freshly cut grass on Opening Day. Along with his longtime fiancée Missy Martin, they were perhaps the best Phillies battery since Lefty and Tim McCarver. So it came as no surprise on the eve of his firing, that he honored a commitment to have dinner with our biggest clients, and at that dinner, knowing that he would never again wear a Phillies uniform, he conducted himself with the dignity, grace and good nature that makes his many contributions to this city, this team and this fan base far more important than baseball itself.
Charlie Manuel is the winningest manager in Phillies history and that record may stand forever. But for those of us who call him “friend,” he will be remembered more for his Hall of Fame character than for his Phillies Hall of Fame career.