AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA -- With Charlie Manuel seated to his left, Ruben Amaro Jr. broke down in tears after announcing he fired his manager.
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.
Sandberg managed the Phillies’ Triple-A team at Lehigh Valley the previous two seasons.
"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."
Amaro said Sandberg takes over on an interim basis and would be evaluated after the season. Sandberg inherits a team that’s 5-19 since the All-Star break and is 20 1/2 games out of first place.