One of Us: Charlie Manuel

The beloved ex-Phillies manager — now back with the team as an adviser — reveals baseball’s biggest problem, his secret talent (think culinary), and his favorite film (think musical. Seriously.).

Illustration by Andy Friedman

Illustration by Andy Friedman

My name is … Charles Fuqua Manuel. The “Fuqua” comes from my grandmother’s doctor. It was my father’s name, and back where I grew up in Virginia, there was one doctor in the county. He delivered my grandmother’s children, and she named my dad after him.

I am a … baseball man. I’ve been in baseball for 52 years.

My usual breakfast … is egg whites, two slices of bacon, dry whole-wheat toast. Coffee, black.

I hit my first major league home run … in Chicago, 1969. I was on the Twins. It was at Comiskey Park. I was hitting fifth in the lineup. They walked Harmon Killebrew to get to me, and I hit it off a left-hand pitcher.

When I had my heart attack … it woke me up to what life’s all about. Sometimes you forget about things, wrapped up in who you are and things around you. Later on, I had kidney cancer. I have been in remission for 13 years. These days, my doctor tells me to slow down and watch what I eat.

This season, the Phillies … have a chance for success if they can stay healthy and some of the young pitchers can improve.

My job with the team … is senior adviser to the general manager. I go see free-agent high-school and college players, the ones considered top prospects in the country.

If I weren’t doing this … I would be hunting and fishing out West.

One game you will never beat me at is … gin.

My secret talent is … cooking beans. Cranberry beans — which I call October beans — green beans, pinto beans, Spanish beans. Just about every kind of bean.

I met the love of my life … about 18 years ago. Missy and I met at baseball practice in Winter Haven, Florida.

The best baseball player who ever lived was … Willie Mays.

The best Phillies player right now … has got to be Chase Utley.

My favorite restaurant in Philadelphia is … 4th Street Deli. I get their hot corned beef.

The biggest problem with baseball today … is that it is too much of a show. Huge salaries and egos play a big part in it.

The best movie ever made was … The Sound of Music.

I drive … an ’85 Ford F-150 truck, an old one. It’s not restored or anything. I own a Cadillac Escalade but drive the Ford.

On Sunday mornings … I go to church. Not all the time. My dad was a Pentecostal preacher.

I am deathly afraid of … snakes.

My most prized material possession … is my coin collection. My most valuable coins are gold coins, old silver dollars, and some Civil War coins and tokens. The most I’ve ever spent on a coin is probably $9,000.

When we won the World Series in 2008, I thought … that was absolutely the highlight of my career. It’s hard to explain how you feel, because it was one of the greatest things that ever happened, not only to me, but also to our fans and to our team.

When I am gone, I hope people will say … that I was a winner.

Originally published in the May 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.