It was that emotional for the general manager and many associated with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Manuel was let go Friday after a disastrous second half, ending the most successful run in club history. Hall of Famer and former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, the Phillies‘ third-base coach, replaced Manuel for the start of a 10-game homestand.
“You people may not know the relationship I’ve had with Charlie. He’s a special person. This is difficult for me. I hope he stays in our organization,” said Amaro, who took over as GM after Manuel led the Phillies to the World Series title in 2008.
The 69-year-old Manuel, the winningest manager in club history, was in the final year of his contract and wanted to manage another two or three seasons.
“I never quit nothing and I didn’t resign,” Manuel said, making it clear he was pushed out the door.
Manuel had been a folksy presence in the Phillies‘ dugout since the beginning of the 2005 season. He wasn’t a popular choice in Philadelphia when former GM Ed Wade hired him to replace Larry Bowa, but he became a beloved figure in a tough city.
“I think we’re all a little upset, a little sad,” Chase Utley said. “It’s not easy to see the guy you play for, for nine years, not behind the batting cage right now watching batting practice. It’s difficult.
“Charlie brought out the most in his players. He was a man you could walk up to and he was the same every day. He was always going to give that positive energy and a lot of times that translated to the field.”
Sandberg managed the Phillies‘ Triple-A team at Lehigh Valley the previous two seasons. He was part of one the most lopsided trades in sports history when the Phillies traded him and Bowa to the Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus in 1982.
“I must say that, for me, I recognize this day as Charlie Manuel Day,” Sandberg said at his first news conference. “What he’s meant to the Philadelphia Phillies‘ organization, what he’s meant to the fans, the championships, the World Series, he’s tops in the organization for what he did here. I really enjoyed my nearly three years with him in spring training and being here in Septembers, and this year especially being with him on a daily basis. I wish Charlie the best with whatever he intends to do, and he left a big footprint here in Philadelphia.”
“These guys are professional players, they’re getting paid well,” Sandberg said. “Sometimes players have to dig deeper, play with pride, play with heart and for the name on the front of the uniform.”
Manuel won his 1,000th game as manager on Monday in Atlanta. Two days later, he sat in the dugout knowing it would be his last game after Amaro informed him of the decision not to extend his contract.