Jerry Manuel, the Mets "gangster" manager, already has a pretty large following in New York, even though he's only been at the helm for 93 games. He has a pretty decent track record as a coach, guiding the 2000 White Sox to a 95-67 record en route to the AL Central title. Unfortunately, they got bounced from the playoffs in three games, but Manuel still won Manager of the Year.
In his 93 games with the Mets, Manuel took a team that looked like they were destined for spoilers, led them to the top of the division before they faded and missed the playoffs by one game.
So we've established that Manuel is a pretty decent manager. As a player though, not so much.
Manuel started his playing career in 1972 after being selected in the first round (20th overall) by the Detroit Tigers in the amateur draft. He started his playing days at AA, with Bristol at the tender age of 18. In 67 games, Manuel hit a cool .240/.303/.395.
The next season, Manuel started at A+ ball with the Lakeland Tigers. His .252 batting average was enough to get him promoted all the way up to Toledo, the AAA affiliate. He spent the next two seasons in triple-A before getting called up to the Tigers in September of 1975.
Manuel made his debut in the major leagues on Sept. 18, against the Cleveland Indians. Batting ninth, Manuel went 0-3, striking out twice. It took four games before Manuel registered his first hit, a single, on Sept. 27 against the Montreal Expos. He ended the season going 1-18 for a .056 average. He also struggled in the field, committing two errors.
As the 1976 season began, Manuel was back at Evansville, the new triple-A affiliate, for only 11 games before rejoining the Tigers. In his first start on April 20, Manuel, batting ninth, went 1-3 with a double and a walk. His average was .250 for the season, after going 0-1 in a pinch hitting opportunity four days prior.
The next day, Manuel picked up a single, going 1-4, and driving in two runs in a win over Oakland. His average stayed at .250 for another day, but it was only downhill from there.
From April 23 through the end of May, Manuel had 23 plate appearances. He went 3-18, with two walks and four strikeouts. His batting average sunk as low as .143 over that span.
From June 1 through the rest of the season, Manuel served mainly as a 8th or 9th inning replacement. He only stepped into the batters box 17 more times, registering only one hit. He ended 1976 with splits of .140/.213/.163. As a fielder though, Manuel also struggled, making eight errors in 47 games played at second base.
When the 1977 season began, Manuel was back at triple-A. The '78 and '79 season saw him stick in Evansville, never batting above .272 for the season. On March 15, 1980, Manuel was traded to the Montreal Expos for Duffy Dyer. (Dyer played in seven season with the New York Mets, and was a member of the 1969 World Championship team. He even had an at-bat in the World Series, pinch hitting in the sixth inning of game one. He did not get on base.)
Again in 1980, Manuel started the season at the top of the minors. Now with the Denver Bears, he played a full season at triple-A before making his first appearance with the Expos on Sept. 13. He did not make it to the plate though, serving as a late inning defensive replacement. He had six at-bats in 1980, failing to get a hit in all six attempts.
In 1981, Manuel started the season with the Expos. Again serving as a late game sub, Manuel didn't get his first start of the season until April 25 against the New York Mets. He went 0-2 with two walks in the first game. He started the final two of the series, and ended up going 4-10 with two doubles, a home run (the first of his MLB career), three runs scored and four RBI's. His batting average ballooned up to .333, the highest of his major league career.
From what I can gather, Manuel suffered an injury and missed most of the season. From May 1 until Sept. 2, there is no game data for him at any level of play. An injury is the most likely cause. Manuel finished out the season, with four games against the Mets. Between two series, Manuel went 3-11 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI's.
The '81 Expos went 60-48 in 1981, good enough for second in the East Division. They made the playoffs and were set to play the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS. Manuel was the Expos starting second baseman for the series.
In five games, in which the Expos bested the Phillies 3-2, Manuel had 16 plate appearances. He went 1-14, walking twice. In the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Manuel was replaced as starting second baseman, and appeared in only the fifth game, as a pinch runner in the ninth inning. Manuel pinch ran for Gary Carter, who walked with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with his team down by one. Manuel was moved over to second as Larry Parish walked behind him, but made it no further as Bob Welch entered for the Dodgers and got Jerry White to ground out to end the threat and the Expos' season.
Manuel started the '82 season back at triple-A with the Expos organization. On May 22, 1982, Manuel was traded to the San Diego Padres for Kim Seaman. (Seaman was drafted by the Mets in 1976. He also made his debut against the Mets, throwing two shutout innings on Sept. 28, 1979 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.)
Manuel was brought right up to the Padres, playing in his first game on May 24 with his new club. It was a short run, as he went 1-5 with a triple (the only of his career), walk and RBI in only two games.
On June 8, 1982, Manuel was traded back to the Montreal Expos for a player to be named later. (That player was eventually Mike Griffin.) He played the remainder of the season with the Wichita Aeros, the new triple-A affiliate of the Expos.
On Feb. 7, 1983, Manuel became a member of the Chicago Cubs organization, as he was traded for Butch Benton. (Another tie to the Mets, as Benton was the sixth overall pick in the 1975 draft by the Mets. He appeared in only 14 games, picking up only three hits, before he was traded to the Cubs in 1981 as part of a conditional deal.)
1983 saw Manuel play with the Iowa Cubs, hitting .265 in 85 games.
In 1984, at the age of 30, Manuel played with the Denver Zephyrs, the Chicago White Sox affiliate. This was hit best statistical season as a batter, as he finished .293/.358/.388 after 109 games and 335 at-bats. At this point of his career, his glove had started to slip, and he made 18 errors between second base and shortstop.
There are no statistics for 1985, and this article in The Baltimore Sun claims he ended his playing career in 1984. But, according to the website The Baseball Cube, Manuel played 22 games with the Indianapolis Indians, the newest triple-A affiliate of the Montreal Expos. In 41 at-bats, he hit .390, with two doubles, a triple and nine RBI's.
His major league career spanned five different seasons and three teams. After 127 at-bats through 96 games, Manuel finished with a .150 batting average. His career splits are .150/.214/.283. He has a career .951 fielding percentage. He hit three home runs, drove in 13 runs and swiped one base.
He had a long, tough road shuttling back and forth between the majors. He tasted "the show" and accomplished more than many other players who play the game. Though his numbers may not show it, Manuel learned the game through all his struggles, which no doubt has helped him work his way up through the ranks of coaching, currently landing him with the New York Mets organization.
I must say I am very confident in Manuel and his style of managing and can't wait to see what he can do with a full season at the helm.
Thanks to Baseball-Reference, The Baseball Cube and this site (for the photo).