I asked a friend of mine, Kristin Sugden, who works on the Charlie Manuel show if she wouldn’t mind sharing her experiences with the Phillies skipper. We both agreed that showing Charlie in a different light could present an entertaining read for the most loyal of Phillies fan. She will be posting quite often about her interactions with Chuck, considering she’s with him a good deal of time. Hope you enjoy.
I’m just getting back from my first trip to Spring Training 2010. The Charlie Manuel Show is entering its 2nd season and I’m still trying to find the line between fan and co-worker. As producer of the show I’ve had some amazing experiences, like following around the Skipper a year after they did the impossible. Instead of giving a cliche overview of my 3 day trip, I thought I’d share with the fans the stuff I always wanted to know about Charlie (and what I’m slowing learning).
The first day at Brighthouse field my boss and I sat in Charlie’s office (he’s “Chuck” to the entire Phillies staff). He walked out of the bathroom singing “We are the Champions” at the top of his lungs. Word on the street is that he belts out tunes on a regular basis. We talked about everything from Mike Schmidt to his 2 year long renovation of his new lake house in Winterhaven, FL. He explained how a sink hole is formed and his favorite places to eat around Tampa Bay. Charles “Fuqua” Manuel loves to talk, about anything.
I was standing behind the batting cage at the Carpenter Complex and Roy Halladay took the mound for the first time at training. Charlie walks over to me and starts explaining why the players aren’t swinging at the ball. He said its called “tracking”. They’re looking for the speed and working on their stride. Apparently not every training camp takes this approach. As a girl in the baseball industry I work a little harder (I think) to prove myself knowledgeable about the game. Charlie talked to me as if I was one of the guys. While sometimes it seems like he needs a break from the baseball talk, nothing makes him light up more then asking what he did to get Ibanez back on base or analyzing a player’s swing. The guy loves baseball, he’s down to earth, and does NOT understand the fame that is associated with going to back to back World Series. Well, I take that back, he understands it, but he can do without it.
We spent our trip putting a mic on him to pick up random conversations with players and fans. Before I turned his mic on the first day he says, “Ya know, I am witty, people don’t know that about me.” I think the second season of the show he wants Philadelphia fans to see the real Charlie. He’s not a bumbling fool when the camera isn’t on. He can dish it out just as much as he can take it. Some of the conversations we overheard were his broken Spanish phrases that the Latin American players and coaches are helping him perfect. Charlie can say “I’ll take two eggs over easy with a side of toast” and “you’re a pretty woman”. The most fascinating part of trip, and a testament to his disinterest in fame, was when he attended a sponsor fan meet and greet. There were a few multi-million dollar salaries walking around the room, including the mayor of Clearwater. If I didn’t know any better I would say Charlie was uncomfortable, in fact, he didn’t leave my side. “Do you know anyone in here, I don’t know anyone.” He said laughing (nervously). About 20 minutes later he left, not because he didn’t want to meet his fans (because he is more than a gentleman when he does), I just think he doesn’t need it (the stuffiness that is).
Charlie has a nickname for almost every player, Polanco is “Polly”, Howard is “Howie”, and right now Werth is “Jesus”. He loves his team and if you tell him how exciting it was to watch them play last year, his answer is always the same, “We still have a lot of work to do” or “We want to win games and we know we have a job to do”. Regardless, it’s reassurance for the Philly fans that his heart is in this and that he knows how much we want it. I have alot of faith in this guy and I hope you do too. I’m going back down March 14th and riding the bus at Charlie’s request. He’s also taking my boss and I out to dinner…a true Southern gentleman. In the words of “David After Dentist”…is this real life?
One huge Phils fan