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“We have a lot of guys who Edwin said don’t hustle or play hard,” Morrison said. “Maybe Jack can kick them in the butt.”

McKeon had been working part time as a special assistant to team owner Jeffrey Loria. His hiring came with the Marlins trying to end a three-week free-fall that had seen them go 1-18 in June.

“I feel 80 years old myself the last three weeks,” president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. “It’s good to have a friend in a time of need, and this is a time of need for this organization. Jack can get the attention of a team very quickly and get them moving in the right direction.”

The Marlins are expected to hire another manager after this season before moving into their new ballpark next April. But if McKeon can pull off a repeat of 2003, he might get a multiyear contract.

That team was floundering when he took over in May, and he led it to a title, with postseason wins over the Giants, Cubs and Yankees.

“They’re looking for the same magic from Jack they had before,” said Dusty Baker, who managed that Cubs club and is now the Reds’ manager. “I’m happy to see Jack back.”

After three successive winning seasons with Florida, McKeon retired as manager at age 74 in 2005. There had been a buzz for several years that he wanted to return to the dugout.

“I had a little siesta,” he said. “After I laid out for a year and a half or two years, I started to miss it.”

This is the second consecutive season Florida has changed managers in June. Fredi Gonzalez was fired and replaced a year ago by Rodriguez, a first-time major-league manager.

In McKeon, the Marlins found a replacement with plenty of experience.

“He’s got the energy to do it,” said Gonzalez, who now manages the Braves. “He’s a character, too.”

McKeon also came out of retirement at 72 to take over the Marlins 38 games into the 2003 season. That hiring made him the oldest manager to take over a big league team, and he quickly revived a franchise that had managed just one winning record in its 10-year history. Florida beat the Yankees in the World Series, and McKeon received the NL manager of the year award for the second time.

Now he’ll try to orchestrate a similar turnaround. The Marlins were only two games behind NL East leader Philadelphia when the month began, but they’ve tumbled to last place and began the week at 32-40.

McKeon was born Nov. 23, 1930, in South Amboy, N.J. He began his professional baseball career as a minor league catcher in 1949 and managed 2,269 games in the minors.

He took his first big league managerial job with Kansas City in 1973 and has also managed Oakland, San Diego and Cincinnati, nearly leading the Reds to a wild-card berth in 1999, when he won NL manager of the year. He returns to the dugout with a career record of 1,011-940.

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