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 major league baseball playoffs.
Manuel was hired on 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," Manual 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 2000-2002. 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.
Bowa was let go with two games remaining in a disappointing season in which Philadelphia finished 10 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East. Bowa led the Phillies to a winning record three times in his four seasons, but they never finished closer than two games behind in the NL East.
A star shortstop on Philadelphia's 1980 World Series championship team, Bowa was very popular among fans. But he wasn't well-liked by some of his players because of his intense, fiery demeanor.
"I'm a motivator," Manuel said. "I motivate by energy, enthusiasm and discipline.
"I'm a 24-hour-a-day baseball guy. I think I'm a perfect fit for the Phillies. I'm an upbeat guy, a positive guy. I'm a guy you have to get to know. I grow on you. I'm a people's person."
The Phillies entered last season as favorites to win the NL East. Despite a US$93 million payroll, they failed to live up to their hype.
Injuries and inconsistency took the Phillies out of the playoff race in early August, causing fans to turn against the team in the first season at Citizens Bank Park.
Manuel was an outfielder who spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Minnesota and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit .198 with four homers in 242 games. Manuel later became a star in the Japanese league, hitting .303 with 189 homers in six seasons.