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Archive for Friday, November 5, 2004

Randolph takes over hometown Mets

November 5, 2004

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— Willie Randolph hung up the phone and gave his wife a big hug. After falling short nearly a dozen times, he finally was a major-league manager.

"I think my wife had to pull me off the ceiling, I was so excited," he said Thursday at Shea Stadium, where the New York Mets introduced the Brooklyn native as their 18th manager. "It's a lot of emotion running through your body, the fact that you finally get your opportunity, you're doing it in your hometown, for the team you rooted for as a kid."

He called his parents in South Carolina after new Mets general manager Omar Minaya hired him Wednesday night and took congratulatory calls from Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson. Paul O'Neill and Don Mattingly telephoned, too.

"They all love me -- now," Randolph said softly as he looked out at all the cameras and reporters.

Taking over a team coming off its third straight losing season, Randolph was given a three-year contract and knows an immediate turnaround is expected. After 11 seasons as a coach with the New York Yankees, he has an idea about the importance of success and the intolerance of failure.

"New Yorkers walk with a swagger. They're tough-minded. I think their team should represent that," Randolph said. "I'm a New Yorker. I'm tough. ... No job is really easy, but I think in New York the expectations are higher."

Art Howe, fired midway through a four-year contract, not only failed to win, he was boring. Randolph, chosen over Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and former Houston and Anaheim manager Terry Collins, gives the Mets some pizzazz.

A six-time All-Star second baseman, he becomes the first black major-league manager in New York. He cited Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell as inspirations.

Phillies turn to Manuel

Philadelphia -- Charlie Manuel's thick Southern drawl, down-home charm and folksy nature make him an odd fit for gritty Philadelphia.

He'll be a perfect choice as manager if he leads the Phillies to the playoffs.

Manuel was hired Thursday to replace Larry Bowa, taking over a talented but underachieving club that hasn't reached the playoffs since 1993.

"I came here to do a job," Manuel said. "It's a we, not an I. And we're going to get the job done. Our goal is to get to the World Series and win it. That's what we're going to do."

The 60-year-old Manuel managed the Cleveland Indians from 2000-02. He beat out seven other candidates, including finalists Jim Leyland and Jim Fregosi.

Manuel spent the past two seasons with the Phillies as a special assistant to general manager Ed Wade, and served as an instructor and a scout at the major- and minor-league levels. His familiarity with the team clearly gave him an edge over other candidates. His affable personality, strong communication skills and reputation as a players' manager make him the anti-Bowa.

"Charlie has the great ability to communicate with his players and build relationships with them, yet he demands excellence," Wade said.

Manuel had a 220-191 record with the Indians and led them to the AL Central championship in 2001, but was fired after a 39-48 start in 2002.

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