When he was hired by the White Sox as the 36th manager in team history, Jerry Manuel joined Larry Rothschild (appointed as the first manager of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays) as the second coach to defect from the World Champion Florida Marlins after their championship season of 1997.
Manuel, like Rothschild, played only sparingly in the big leagues and had no major league managing experience. In fact, Manuel had only managed one full season in the minors, winning Manager of the Year honors after leading Double-A Jacksonville to the Southern League crown in 1990. The following year, fifty games into his next assignment as manager of Triple-A Indianapolis, Manuel was promoted to the Expos to coach third base after Tom Runnells moved to the dugout to replace fired manager Buck Rodgers. Manuel stayed with the Expos for six years, most of them working for Runnells’ successor Felipe Alou.
Although he played in the League Championship Series as a member of the 1981 Montreal Expos (making one appearance as a pinch-runner) Manuel never made it to the World Series until 1997, when he became bench coach of the eventual world champion Florida Marlins. Even after leaving Montreal, he kept close ties to the club through his daughter, who married Expos star centerfielder Rondell White.
Despite some run-ins with slumping star Frank Thomas, Manuel’s ultra-aggressive style on the field and patience off it resonated well with his youthful White Sox, who finished in second place in the AL Central in both ’98 and ’99. He credits his peaceful nature to a religious transformation inspired by teammate Thad Bosley, a born-again Christian, in 1983.