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Charlie Manuel
Phils skipper living out mother's final wish

By Mike Scarr /

One of the last things June Manuel told her son was that he and the Phillies would be going to the World Series.

She died the following day, on Oct. 2, but Charlie Manuel and the Phillies made her prediction hold up before going on to beat the Rays in the five-game Fall Classic.

"Sister Manuel was a very simple lady but a very elegant lady," said Reverend W.A. Mills, pastor of the First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Buena Vista, Va. "She was sincere. I would say she was his No. 1 fan. She was very proud of him as she was of all of her children. She bragged on all of their accomplishments."

It wasn't prophetic, said Mills, just indicative of a woman who gave her life to her family and church.

"She was such a godly women and such a sweetheart," said Mills, who delivered the eulogy at June Manuel's funeral. "She was one of those people that you went to see thinking you were going to encourage her. She always encouraged you."

It was an art well practiced.

Charlie Manuel Jr. has 10 siblings, nine of whom are still living. Third in line but the eldest boy, Charlie took the name of his dad, but the people of Buena Vista know him simply as Fook -- short for his given middle name, Fuqua.

His father was the pastor of the same Pentecostal church over which Mills now presides, and his mother was a soloist at services and at her husband's radio broadcasts.

During Charlie's senior year at Parry McCluer High School, where he was a four-sport star, his father passed away. That was 1963, and June Manuel was just 40. His brothers took part-time jobs after school to help support a family that struggled in the ensuing years but managed to stay off welfare through hard work and sacrifice.

Charlie's future was in pro ball.

Northfork, W.Va.

Parry McCleur High School (Va.)

MLB Teams:
Played: MIN, LAD
Coached: CLE, PHI

Video | Manager bio
He opted for baseball over basketball because it paid better, signing with the Twins. His ability to hit was apparent, and he won the Midwest League Triple Crown in 1967. He played parts of four seasons with the Twins and another two with the Dodgers before taking the leap across the Pacific for six seasons in Japan.

Manuel flourished with the Yakult Swallows and the Kinetsu Buffaloes. He was the first American to win a Most Valuable Player Award there, in 1979, and hit a Japanese League-high 48 homers in 1980, then a Japanese record for an American-born player.

Upon returning to the United States, Manuel became a coach before rejoining the Twins, this time as a scout. By 1983, he was a manager at Class A Wisconsin, and in 1992, he won a Pacific Coast League championship at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Manuel's first big league managerial job began with Cleveland in 2000, and after a three-year tenure with the Indians, he took the helm for the Phillies in 2005. His club has finished second twice and won a pair of National League East titles in his four seasons with the Phils.

Mills said there is a sign at the city limits that proudly declares Buena Vista the home of Charlie Manuel. Prior to her passing, June Manuel displayed a sign of her own.

"She clutched the sports section of the Roanoke Times to herself as she lay in the hospital bed," Mills said. "She made a point when the doctors and nurses came in and let them know that he was one of her sons."

Mike Scarr is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.