Jerry Manuel sits in the dugout, mute and expressionless--his
arms crossed, his mouth ruminant, his sunglasses resting on his
high, rounded Cherokee cheekbones--looking as if he were carved
and sanded from a cut of new mahogany. The Chicago White Sox
manager always appears this way, looking serene and Buddha-like
as he scans the diamond from his baseline bunker, as he reads
the rhythms of the game being played out before him. As usual,
he is not looking for the answers in "the book," the text on
which all average-to-mediocre managers rely, but is plumbing his
viscera for a "sense" of what to do, for the move that feels
right, the instinct that points the way.
Such was the case on May 13, nearing nine o'clock at night in
Comiskey Park, with the White Sox drifting in their first
prolonged doldrums of the year. As recently as May 5 they had led
the American League Central by 3 1/2 games over the Cleveland
Indians, but by mid-May they had lost nine of their last 11 games
and had tumbled into a virtual tie for first place with the
Indians. At this critical juncture, as Manuel looked down his
bench, the Sox were on the verge of swooning yet again, this time
into second place. They had but one final breath. It was the last
of the ninth, with two outs and the tying run, Carlos Lee, on
first base, and they were trailing the Minnesota Twins 3-2.
"Jerry manages by the gut," says Ron Schueler, the White Sox
general manager. "He does a lot of work on matchups, but then he
says, 'I just got a gut feeling.'" Indeed, of all the things that
define Manuel as a manager, that made him the American League's
winningest skipper during the season's first four months, none
describe the loft of his arc as clearly as his fearlessness in
taking risks, his willingness to flout conventional wisdom.
"Jerry is not afraid to lose a ball game," says former player and
onetime White Sox general manager, Ken Harrelson, now a Fox TV
commentator for the team. "He's not afraid to play a hunch."
After all, this is the manager who, on June 11, compromised the
Sox' chances to sweep a three-game series with the Cubs--a sweep
that rabid Sox fans were clamoring for--when he kept his two best
short relievers under wraps, resting them for a vastly more
important three-game series against the Indians in Cleveland, and
sent out instead a second-level reliever, Jesus Pena, who lost
the game 6-5. (The Sox swept Cleveland and then took four
straight in New York from the Yankees in a pivotal road trip.)
This is also the man who, in an age when so many managers are
"afraid of the players," according to Harrelson, did not hesitate
to discipline and later confront his angry superstar, Frank
Thomas, in a spring training shouting match that lanced an old
boil, energized the team and helped launch Thomas on what may
turn out to be his third MVP season.
So there was Manuel on May 13, as the wheels were coming off,
once again zigging when the moment called for zagging. Bob Wells,
a righty, was trying to close out the game for the Twins. Not
only did Manuel lift his next batter, righthanded hitter Josh
Paul, who was batting .283, but he also looked past
lefthanded-hitting Mark Johnson and another righthanded hitter,
infielder Craig Wilson, who was hitting .319. Manuel looked all
the way down to a struggling righty, outfielder Jeff Abbott, who
was hitting only .192. Worse, Abbott was batting .115 (3 for 26)
lifetime as a pinch hitter. Manuel had studied at the side of two
world-class managers, Felipe Alou with the Expos and Jim Leyland
with the Marlins. "Harvard and Yale," Manuel deadpans. From them,
he learned not only to manage without fear, but also how to watch
and read the players, from their swaggers to their swings.
Before batting practice on game days, Manuel hangs an expression
on his face that reads DO NOT DISTURB. He walks to short
centerfield, behind the second base screen, and watches his
players take BP. This is his classroom, his personal seminar on
swats. "When BP comes up, I really don't like to be bothered,"
Manuel says. "I'm studying the hitters to see who is swinging the
bat well. That's why I watch so closely. Abbott was swinging the
bat well that day, and I felt very good about him. If you have a
feel, you've got to go with it."
So off he went. "Jeff, get ready," he told Abbott.
Stunned, Abbott asked, "To pinch-run?"
"No," said Manuel, "to pinch-hit."
Wells fed Abbott a slider for ball one, and, not wanting to fall
behind 2 and 0, he fired a fastball, down and in, that ran right
over the plate, knee-high. Sitting on the pitch, Abbott golfed it
over the fence in left center--"He hit the s--- out of it," said
Wells--and Abbott had the White Sox dancing out of the dugout as
he danced in. "I think I got my swing back," an ebullient Abbott
said to Manuel.
"Good, we're gonna need you," the manager said.
Indeed, Abbott was hitting .281 at week's end. "That home run
turned my season around," says Abbott. "He gave me my confidence.
Everything he's done this year has broken right."
In fact, Abbott hit that ball so hard, metaphorically speaking,
that the thwack of it echoed in the clubhouse for days, sending
the Sox on a sustained tear: They won seven of nine games to
start, and played .765 baseball over a 34-game stretch, winning
26 times, until they ended up, on June 19, leading the Indians
by 8 1/2 games. By the All-Star break, on July 10, the
fourth-youngest team in baseball had stretched its lead to 10
1/2 games. Through Sunday, Chicago was 70-47, the second-best
mark in the majors, and was still 7 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland
in the American League Central.
At the center of this swirl, right down at its radioactive core,
is this 46-year-old mahatma of calm who was born in rural
Georgia; who remains one of the greatest three-sport athletes to
sprint out of Sacramento; who likes to recall sitting in his
office and sharing baseball tales and Scripture readings with
Albert Belle; who has assimilated the teachings of Martin Luther
King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi and Felipe Alou on subjects ranging
from fasting to the fastball and self-sacrifice to the sacrifice
fly; who has so inculcated the wisdom of history's sages,
ancient and modern alike, that at times he sounds like some
white-bearded mystic-cum-guru who descended among us from a
snowcapped Himalayan peak, as when he was asked last year about
Thomas's stubborn refusals to play first base: "You have to let
this type of thing run its course. Then we'll have the player we
had before. What needs to be revealed is being revealed."
So it came to pass....
This is not the mind of a typical baseball manager at work here.
Rather, Manuel suggests a kind of New Age Casey Stengel, that
unending font of wisdom, whimsy and charm. A born-again
Christian, Manuel neither chews nor drinks nor uses profanity,
the old triple play of sins in his profession, but there is
nothing rigid or self-righteous about him--he hides his piety like
a steal sign--and humor is part and parcel of his grace. When told
that one of his more intellectually challenged players had just
had two wisdom teeth extracted, Manuel smiled and said, "Dang,
they should have left those in." His humor, at times intended to
lighten darker moods, can be charmingly self-deprecating. Like
Stengel, he is not afraid to play the clown.
On April 28, while serving the first day of his eight-game
suspension for his part in the bench-clearing brawl with the
Detroit Tigers on April 22, Manuel watched the Sox beat the
Tigers 3-2 on the TV in his room at the Ritz-Carlton in Dearborn,
Mich. That evening, as the coaches and players stepped off the
team bus at the hotel, a uniformed doorman, looking ramrod
straight in his jacket and hat, held the front door open as
acting manager Joe Nossek swept past.
"Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton," said the doorman.
"Yeah, yeah," grumped Nossek, not looking up.
"Hey, Joe!" yelled the doorman. Nossek turned back. It was
Manuel, who had borrowed the uniform from the actual doorman.
Beyond such flights of levity and fancy, Manuel has brought to
the White Sox a scratching, clawing style of play lifted from the
National League, from his five years under Alou in Montreal and a
championship season in Florida under Leyland. Manuel has drilled
into his players' young, unspoiled skulls the virtues of that
grinding, in-the-dirt style--bunt, steal, hit-and-run and
sacrifice (there's that word again)--and he has been preaching his
simple Sermon on the Mound since he took over in Chicago in the
spring of '98.
The code words that he used to define the style were "aggressive"
and "fearless" and "liberated," with "vision for winning" and
"confrontation" right alongside. He became, according to a
consensus of players and coaches around him, the Great
Communicator. "One of the best communicators I've ever seen,"
says the 59-year-old Nossek, the bench coach, "and I've been with
15 managers--39 years' worth."
Such were Manuel's poised demeanor and skills at persuasion that
the troops bought into the litany from the outset, so much so
that many are beginning to sound like him in interviews. "If you
get beat being aggressive, he will have no problem with you,"
says starting pitcher Mike Sirotka. "If you are not aggressive,
or if you're lackadaisical, there is no room for you. If you are
fearless and attack the game, you can always play for Jerry
Out of this simple philosophy, then, evolved the character of
this surprising playoff-bound team. The players take bases on
balls. They hit to the opposite field. They run the bases hard.
One of their power hitters, third baseman Herbert Perry, helped
win a game on July 5 by crushing a two-run homer in the 13th
inning in Kansas City. Less than a month later, on July 30 in
Anaheim, with Thomas on second and Magglio Ordonez on first and
with no outs in the 10th inning of a game in which the Sox had
rallied from a 6-2 deficit to tie the score at 7-7, the
hot-hitting Perry laid down a perfect bunt in front of the plate,
loading the bases. That helped set up a four-run inning in which
Abbott and Lee both hit opposite-field singles that knocked in
two runs each, leading to Chicago's wildest come-from-behind
victory of the season.
It is the way this team is playing, the way Manuel has been
managing it, that has convinced old hands like Harrelson that the
man has a gift. "The only manager who is better than Jerry is Lou
Piniella," Harrelson says. "And I think Jerry will pass him. I
don't get impressed with managers. I've seen and played for too
many of them. But I think Jerry has a chance to be as good a
manager as I have ever seen. I wouldn't trade him for anybody."
Nor would Schueler. Not only did he assemble most of the team's
parts, through trades and the waiver wire and the draft, but he
is also looking more and more like a whiz himself for hiring
Manuel. In the fall of '97, looking for a manager to replace
Terry Bevington, Schueler put together a list of 14 candidates.
He had heard "a lot of good things" about Manuel, who was then
Leyland's bench coach, but he only put him on the list, at number
11, after calling the Marlins' manager to inquire about him.
"Very good worker, very good communicator," Leyland told him. "I
gave him the outfield, besides the bench. He had a couple of
tough guys to handle. He did a great job."
"You think he's ready to manage in the major leagues?" Schueler
"I'm not sure of that," said Leyland. "I haven't seen him manage.
But he's a great choice."
Schueler had made a deal with his owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, under
which he could interview anyone he wanted, without informing
Reinsdorf until he settled on the best three candidates. Schueler
would then advise the owner of his choices so Reinsdorf could
talk to them, too, and help make the final call. Schueler
interviewed and liked Larry Parrish, then the bench coach for the
Tigers. He also talked to Bucky Dent, a coach with the Rangers,
one morning in Florida and liked what he had heard from him. That
afternoon he met with Manuel in a hotel room in West Palm Beach.
Manuel had just been turned down for the managing job with Tampa
Bay--"As much as I wanted to manage in the major leagues, I had a
sense of peace; this was not for me," he says--but now he fasted
for 48 hours in preparing to meet Schueler. "I fasted to get
clarity," says the admirer of Gandhi. "It's a struggle, but once
you have gotten through a couple of tough periods, you feel
tremendously sharp, in tune, in touch, ready."
Schueler had a list of 80 questions, and Manuel staggered him
with his answers. "It was like Jerry had a copy of my questions
and he'd had all night to work on them," says Schueler. At one
point, portentously, Schueler asked how he might handle a balky
superstar like Frank Thomas.
"We'd sit down and talk it through," Manuel said.
"What if Frank doesn't like it?"
"We'll talk about it," Manuel said. "I'll handle it."
Finally, he asked Manuel if he had anything to say. Manuel said,
"I've got a plan. Here's what I'd like to do." He talked about
"having a vision" of winning, about playing solid, fundamental
baseball, about communicating and relating with the front office,
with the players. Says Schueler, "He said things like, 'Rules
without relationships lead to rebellion.'"
He was ideal, an Indian maharishi with a light-up-the-scoreboard
smile who insisted that everyone, including the vendor pitching
peanut bags, hit the cutoff man. He was soft-spoken yet firm,
intelligent yet humble, and polite yet earnestly intense. Secure
in his belief in himself, in what he stood for, he was, at 43, as
solid as Soldier Field, a man who had married his high school
sweetheart, Renette Caldwell, had four kids--Angela, Jerry,
Anthony and Natalie--a long history as a player, coach and
manager, and no discernible weaknesses except for baseball and
the curve away. By the next morning Schueler had decided not to
bother calling the last three candidates. Instead, he called
Reinsdorf in Phoenix.
"I have a guy," Schueler said.
"I told you I wanted three guys," said Reinsdorf.
"Jerry, I have The Guy!"
So The Guy flew off to Phoenix to see The Owner, who met with him
and promptly called his G.M. "You've got to be kidding," said
Reinsdorf. "This guy is so good he's scary."
Schueler summoned Manuel back for a second interview in Chicago.
"And bring your wife," he said. "I want to meet her."
As she and Jerry arrived at Comiskey Park, Schueler approached
them. "I brought you here under false pretenses," the G.M. said.
"The job is yours."
Renette broke down and wept as she and her husband embraced.
There was no way for anyone outside the family to know this, but
Manuel was suffering through the most wrenching stretch of his
life. All through his long climb to this moment, through the
disappointments of an unfulfilled playing career and on to that
coaching ladder in Montreal and Florida, Manuel dreamed of the
day when he might have his own team in the big leagues and share
that experience with the man who taught him the game and
instilled in him the love for it. But just five weeks earlier
Manuel's father, Lorenzo, from whom Jerry had inherited his
piano-key grin and his jousting sense of humor, had died, the
consequence of an incapacitating stroke he suffered seven months
earlier on the driveway of his home in Sacramento. "He loved
this game so much," says Manuel.
Lorenzo Manual and his wife, Mildred, had created their family
from a tossed salad of racial genes. Lo was black, but Mildred's
father was of mixed race and her mother was a full-blooded
Cherokee who looked in photos "like Sitting Bull's wife," recalls
Jerry's brother, Jerome, the oldest son. They began raising six
children in little Cecil, Ga., in a cramped three-bedroom house
that Lorenzo had bought for $226 by selling his mule.
"We were the first people in Cecil to have a bathroom," says
Mildred. "We were scared to flush the toilet. We didn't now if it
was gonna work."
Lo had been a Navy cook, and almost all his life he cooked at
government facilities--military bases, hospitals, even a prison.
He nearly always had a second job, as a mechanic at a service
station or cutting hair, and in Cecil, Mildred picked cotton on
Saturdays for extra money. "Pick 200 pounds, you'd get six
dollars," she says. They worked a tenant farm there, too, where
Lo and Mildred raised corn, greens, chickens and hogs on 40
acres. "We ate what we grew," she says. "We had no money, but
Lorenzo always had a place for us to stay and something to eat."
On Sundays the whole brood--the girls, Simmie, Barbara and Lowana,
and brothers Jerome, Kenneth and young Jerry--would head for the
ballyard, where Lo pitched for a Negro semipro team. This was
Jerry's introduction to the expanding universe of baseball. "When
he would pitch, I would jump out of my mother's arms and go to
the first base line," Jerry recalls. "I'd mimic what he was
doing. He'd wind up, and I'd wind up."
In '61 the family moved to Amarillo, Texas, where another
daughter, Vivian, was added to the family. It was there that
Jerry became totally absorbed in sports. He practiced batting by
the hour, using a broken-off broom handle to hit rocks on a hill
out back of the house. Recalls Mildred, "I can still see him,
standing on a little hill in Texas, with a little bat in his
hands, knocking rocks all over the place. I had to send for him
to get his dinner. Or he would get my clothespins off the line
and go to his room with them, run them around the bed like little
football players. When I was getting ready to hang the wash, I
always had to go to Jerry's room to get my pins."
When the family made its last push west, moving to the
Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova in 1969, Manuel was playing
three sports, and he soon became the preeminent high school
athlete in the Sacramento area--a dart-quick flanker and
defensive back in football, a shooting guard in basketball and
among the most promising schoolboy baseball players in the
nation, a slick-gloved infielder who could run and hit. Of the
three he favored baseball the least, football the most. "My dad
loved baseball," he says. "My mother loved basketball. I loved
baseball but football more. I loved the hitting. I was best at
It was the sport that left him with the most poignant memory of
his father. His senior year, with a separated shoulder tightly
taped, he gingerly put on his pads and strolled onto the field
in uniform, a wounded hero coming to play. "I was coming across
the track, and people were going crazy," he says. "That was
probably the most emotional I ever saw my dad. He was standing
on the track, and I could see tears in his eyes."
And pride and humility on Lo's face after Jerry beat his
coverage, snagged a 36-yard pass one-handed and got to the
Woodland High five before being forced out-of-bounds. Cordova
High scored and went on to win 14-0. The next game, with his
shoulder still heavily bandaged, he won the game 7-6 when he
intercepted a pass in his own end zone and raced 102 yards up
the sideline for Cordova's only score.
Manuel signed a letter of intent to attend UCLA on a football
scholarship--"He'd have been great at UCLA and in the NFL," says
his football coach, Dewey Guerra; "he had the tools and he was so
smart out there"--but baseball beckoned in the spring of '72, with
an average of 14 scouts coming round every game to watch him play
short. He hit .466 in 28 games. "Any idiot could coach him," says
his Cordova coach, Guy Anderson. "Everything came easy to him. I
was once thin on pitching, and he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
Hand him the ball; he just did it."
Manuel was not the only player that the scouts came to see that
spring. He belonged to a remarkable high school team that
included three boys who would reach the big leagues--outfielder
Nyls Nyman, who would play 120 games for the White Sox from 1974
to '77; Randy Lerch, who would win 60 games pitching for five
teams from 1975 to '86; and Manuel. While a fourth player from
that squad, outfielder Mike Ondina, never advanced beyond the
minors, he and Manuel made other history of sorts. They were the
first players from the same high school class to go in the first
round of the draft, with the White Sox taking Ondina at No. 12
and the Tigers taking Manuel at No. 20. In the end Jerry chose
baseball over football. "I felt I'd have a longer life in
baseball," Manuel says. "And I knew that's what my dad wanted."
Nor could the son of a simple, hardworking cook turn down the
money. The Tigers offered him $15,000 to sign, but Guerra and
Anderson, sitting in on the negotiations, badgered the club to
raise the ante. Pepper Rodgers, the UCLA football coach at the
time, knew the Tigers had drafted him and told Guerra, "Remind
Jerry what the scholarship at UCLA is worth." At the Manuel home,
Guerra told the Tigers' rep, "I think you're trying to take
advantage of this kid. He's got a UCLA scholarship that's worth
The Tigers signed him for precisely that, and a bittersweet
odyssey began, a 14-year journey through the minor leagues, with
only intermittent forays to the bigs. If Manuel rarely
complained, rarely showed the effects of the ordeal, the
disappointments came often and were sharply felt. He and Renette
married in April 1974, and she experienced that passage with him.
That year he spent the first of his five seasons in Evansville,
Ind., playing for the Tigers' Triple A affiliate. Then would come
a season at Triple A Denver, in the Expos' system, a call-up to
Montreal, where he was injured, a year in Wichita and another
with the Cubs' Triple A team in Des Moines. Later came another
stop in Denver and a season in Indianapolis.
"There were a lot of disappointments because you wanted to be in
the major leagues," says Renette. "He was always the last guy
cut. He wanted to play very badly. He played almost his entire
career on a [40-man] major league roster at the Triple A level.
So close yet so far."
Those years had their compensations. "Life in the minors was a
financial struggle, but it was our best times together," she
says. "The minor leagues were fun. The freedom, the camaraderie,
the teams, the wives and families, all in the same struggle, all
trying to get there together, no egos, everyone trying to make
For Manuel the reward was in the winning at places like
Evansville. "We had the greatest fans," he recalls. "They
embraced us. Anytime you win in a quaint setting like that, you
have fun and everybody's really together. New families were being
formed. Some went to the big leagues. Some came back down.
Because of the winning, it was rewarding. We won a lot in
Manuel played for Alou in winter ball in Venezuela, in '79, and
then at Wichita, in '82. Says Alou, "He was a smart player, a
utility guy who had good fundamentals. He had a hard time
handling some pitches, but he became a good opposite-field
hitter. He was a nice ballplayer, for me. With Jerry, the main
thing was that you knew he was either going to manage or coach
once his playing days were over."
After all those years of knocking around and everything he'd put
into it, Manuel had played in only 96 major league games--60 for
Detroit, 34 for Montreal and two for the Padres--and all he had to
show for them was 19 hits and a lifetime average of .150. He hung
around the minors through '86, still hoping to catch on
somewhere. "Like any athlete, I always thought, I can still make
it," he says.
By then, though, he was already moving in a different direction.
Manuel had always been drawn to people who affected and
influenced others, to the power of principles and ideals in human
lives. Early in his career he became engrossed in the sermons and
speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., and he spent hours listening
to them on cassette tapes. Even now he can recite long passages
from the "I Have a Dream" speech, and from the "I've Been to the
Mountaintop" speech that King delivered on the eve of his
assassination. "It's like knowing the lyrics of a song," he says.
"King stood for something. If a man does not have anything for
which he will stand, then he is not fit to live."
King led him to Gandhi. Manuel was looking one day at a
photograph of King, who was sitting in a jail cell and reading a
book. He noticed one word on the back cover of the book: Gandhi.
Intrigued, Manuel went to a library and began reading of this
frail, barefoot little man whom Winston Churchill contemptuously
described as "that half-naked fakir." He was taken by him and
watched the movie Gandhi so often--at least 20 times at last
count--that he can recite long bits of dialogue. "An eye for an
eye only ends up making the whole world blind" is one of his
favorite lines. Gandhi's strength and humility are what struck
him. "He was not a possessor of title or land, but he moved
millions of people," Manuel says. "King was basically the same."
So, too, Manuel felt himself drawn to Christianity, to the power
of yet another simple man, to the bearer of the cross. "I was
always looking for something," he says. He found it one day in
1983 when he was at spring training with the Cubs and he attended
outfielder Thad Bosley's Bible study class. One of the
participants was a catcher. "I don't even know his name," Manuel
says. On the day that players were cut, says Manuel, "we had guys
crying, guys sobbing." The manager called in the catcher to tell
him he'd been cut. Far from breaking down, he appeared at peace,
even elated, when he heard the news. "Now I can find out what God
has in store for me," the catcher said. "This is great."
Manuel just stared at him. "I knew he had something I wanted to
have," he says. "The circumstances didn't move him. His belief is
what he held on to. He was immovable."
Manuel was born again not long after that summer, and by the end
of 1986 he had found a new purpose, a new dream, that would
sustain him through an array of jobs--as scout, instructor, minor
league manager and eventually big league coach--preparing for the
day that Schueler called. He considers the time he spent working
for Alou as his undergraduate work at Harvard. "Felipe is a
baseball genius," says Manuel. "He understands the rhythm of the
games so well. Always looking for different ways of doing things.
His understanding of the game is phenomenal."
He then did that one year of graduate work at Yale: "Jim Leyland
is a great manager. A great organizer."
With that training and the work ethic he developed watching his
father toil at two jobs for years, Manuel threw himself into the
White Sox job, eager to make good. Every day in 1998 Albert Belle
showed up in Manuel's office, a cup of McDonald's coffee in hand,
and the two men talked about everything--Gandhi, baseball
strategy, Christ, managing, Martin Luther King. "He knew a lot
about King," Manuel says. "His parents marched in Birmingham. I
enjoyed Albert Belle. Very, very smart."
Not even the other Mahatma, Branch Rickey, could have helped that
team, however. The White Sox finished 80-82 and were greeted
almost daily by a chorus of boos. Last year, with Belle and even
the well-liked Robin Ventura traded--and with Thomas struggling on
a sore foot while stubbornly refusing to make adjustments at the
plate--they slipped to 75-86. Manuel did not panic, but Schueler
occasionally had to get philosophical with his manager. "Be
patient," the G.M. kept telling him. "Relax. We've got time to
win. We're getting there. We're building."
The two men figured that the pieces were falling into place, but
no one foresaw how soon and how beautifully the parts would come
together, how intense and focused they would be. Manuel imported
the philosophy, the intense, single-minded purposefulness, and
the players have been implementing it. "It's not the swinging for
the fences that has won us games," he says. "It's the guy taking
the leadoff walk. It's the guy hustling into second base to beat
a throw--or take a guy out. These little things have made the
difference. This team has a strong bond. They like each other.
They pull for each other. They want to win badly. They are
growing up very quickly, right before our eyes."
Even Thomas, the team's only established superstar, has found a
new sense of comfort in his old Southside home. Last February,
at the opening of spring training in Tucson, Thomas was still
recovering from an injured foot and refused to do one
particularly rigorous field exercise. With the team looking on,
Manuel ordered Thomas off the field and later appealed to
Schueler for support. "Frank Thomas will not put on this uniform
again until it is talked through," Schueler told him. In fact,
in an incident oft credited with galvanizing the White Sox and
launching the team upon its winning season, Manuel confronted
Thomas and had a loud argument with him in his office. Says
Harrelson, "That incident let every player in a White Sox
uniform know who was the captain of the ship. It was an action
that had to be taken--and he took it."
Today, calling Manuel a "strong, stable leader," Thomas says
without irony, "He's not afraid to talk to guys one on one. When
they are having a tough time, he has the respect to pull them
into his office and have a talk with them."
Thomas has been a large part in the White Sox surge, but only a
part. Says Schueler, "If I could say anything about our club this
year, it's this: We're not sitting around waiting for Frank
Thomas to win a ball game for us. Jerry makes them all feel like
they have a role to play."
Manuel is sitting in his office at Comiskey Park, surrounded by
picture frames. One holds an obituary of his sister, Barbara, an
administrator of the women's basketball program at USC before
she died last January of a brain aneurysm. Another bears a copy
of the paper documenting the sale of Lo's mule for the purchase
of his home. A third reveals the grainy photograph of a gang of
young kids, Lo as a child among them. "I wish, as much as he
worked with me, that he had been able to witness this," says
Manuel. "He was always there for me. I think of him every day."
COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY WALTER IOOSS JR.
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER Soiled Sox With a hard slide at second base, Ordonez demonstrates the down-and-dirty aggressiveness that Manuel brought over from the National League.
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK A watchful eye Long before the game begins, Manuel is looking for an edge, checking to see who's swinging the bat well.
TWO B/W PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE MANUEL FAMILY (2) A racial stew Jerry's father, Lorenzo, a former Navy cook, was black; his maternal grandmother, Rosie, was Cherokee.
COLOR PHOTO: JONATHAN DANIEL Healing the Big Hurt Thomas, who had his differences with Manuel in the spring, has gone on to produce MVP-level numbers.
COLOR PHOTO: RICH FRISHMAN Where the heart is Manuel is never far from the game he loves: His den is painted with a mural of an old-style locker room.
"If you are fearless and ATTACK THE GAME," says one Sox pitcher,
"you can always play for Jerry Manuel."
Manuel hangs an expression on his face that reads, DO NOT
DISTURB, then walks to short centerfield and watches his players
take batting practice.
Jerry's introduction to the EXPANDING UNIVERSE of baseball was
watching his father pitch for a Negro semipro team.
In an era when so many managers "are AFRAID OF THE PLAYERS,"
says Harrelson, Manuel confronted Thomas, his angry star.
Early in his career Manuel became engrossed in THE TEACHINGS OF
KING AND GANDHI, and he can still quote them at length.
"I wish that my father, as much as he worked with me, had been
able to witness this," says Manuel. "I THINK OF HIM EVERY DAY."