PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The first place Philadelphia Phillies are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the 2008 World Series Championship this weekend at Citizens Bank Park.
6abc.com sat down with former manager, and current Senior Advisor to the General Manager, Charlie Manuel to reminisce - about the players, moments, and fans that made that season so special, and to look ahead at today's team and their chances of parading down Broad Street this October.
6abc.com: Charlie, you are back in Philadelphia for alumni weekend.
Charlie: Big weekend coming up.
6abc.com: Can you believe it's been 10 years since the World Series Championship? Did time just fly by?
Charlie: It flew by. Seemed like yesterday, really. I was just up at the Hall of Fame thing for Jimmy Thome. He's played baseball for 22 years - that seemed like it was yesterday. The parade seems like we just did it.
6abc.com: When you think about what happened 10 years ago, do you still get that same emotion you did back then when you were in the dugout, on the field, or at the parade?
Charlie: I say maybe even more. I thought the highlight of my career was the World Series, the fans, and the parade. How they acted. Everything about it was completely real. People hugged you, they touched you, they want to talk to you. They smile. Everything about it was great.
6abc.com: Philadelphia fans are die-hard. They live and breathe their sports teams. What was it like for you to be around Phillies fans for all those seasons and experience that?
Charlie: If you remember when I first came here, they had to get to know me. My first interview when I got hired, I said like 'don't look at me real early, at least get to know me, give me a chance, because when we win you're going to like me.' I said that, I know I did. And when I think about the Phillies fans, everything about them is great.
One thing about our ballpark and the Phillies fans, is you get our ballpark full, Citizens Bank full of people, you got a lot of energy. It's the way our ballpark is made and the loudness of the Philly fan and how they interact with the game.
6abc.com: Gabe Kapler had a similar start here this season. Fans at first did not know what to make of him or his decision-making.
Charlie: Basically, the time I've been around Gabe, he's very positive, he's got a good rapport with his players, and they like to play and where they are at shows that.
We have some young players, we have some veteran players, and our players look like they love to come to the ballpark. If they lose a game, they seem to get over it real quick.
6abc.com: Do you think Gabe's positivity is helping the morale of the team?
Charlie: Absolutely. I noticed that the first time I met him. He's got great communication skills.
6abc.com: And he has great nicknames for players too!
Charlie: My nicknames for players would probably be more country. His are more dignified (laughs).
6abc.com: One of the biggest nicknames during the 2008 World Championship run was the Flyin' Hawaiian Shane Victorino who returns Friday to retire as a Phillie. (Fans will get Big Head Collectible Print of Shane to celebrate!) What was it like coaching Shane all those years?
Charlie: A lot of energy. Into everything. You got to get on him a lot. You got to remind him of things. But, at the same time, you love him. He's a good, very skilled player. For a small guy, got power, had speed. Good personality for our club. Outstanding, really. But when I was mad at him, I'd call him the Cryin' Hawaiian. When I'm happy with him, I call him the Flying' Hawaiian.
6abc.com: Did he like being called the Cryin' Hawaiian?
Charlie: Actually, I think he did. You'd have to ask him.
6abc.com: The fans' connection with the 2008 team is uncanny. When Shane comes out, plus the many other names on Sunday during the 10th anniversary celebration - including Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Jamie Moyer, Pat Burrell, and Brad Lidge (fans will receive a Brad Lidge Bobble Figurine at Sunday's game) - what do you think the reaction at Citizens Bank Park will be?
Charlie: I think when you see players like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Vic, and Jamie Moyer, Brett Myers, Jayson Werth, Pat Burrell, I think they're going to get a big round of applause. Because I think, our team, people fell in love with who we were as far as personality and talent and how we played the game. We were their team. I think they were very close to us.
6abc.com: One very special moment this weekend, on Saturday, Pat Gillick and Roy Halladay will be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame (all fans will receive a Toyota Commemorative Print of Pat Gillick & Roy Halladay). You're a Wall of Famer. What does it mean to get that recognition?
Charlie: I think it's a very high honor. It's one of the best honors you can have. Pat and Roy both definitely deserve to be on the wall. They are two great baseball figures that were very good for the game.
6abc.com: You had a very close connection to Roy. At his memorial service, you mentioned you'd keep an eye on his kids. You've gone to some of their baseball games. How are they doing?
Charlie: They're doing real good. I'm proud of both them. They like to play. And they are pretty good players.
6abc.com: Not to get too philosophical, but to touch upon the bigger picture of the sport, what do you think it is that brings people to the stadiums? What is it that makes baseball so popular?
Charlie: I think when they say baseball is America's game, I think people love the game. They love being outside. They love the hot dogs, the beer, everything that goes with it, all kinds of food, but they also like to watch the game. And they like the talent and personalities and the style of the players. It's an easy game to keep up with. It's always good when you follow the team because it gives you something to do. And, believe me, it'll keep you busy following them. But success, too, will bring people to the ballpark.
6abc.com: And you can see that with this team. More fans are attending games as the Phillies battle for first place in the NL East. In your view as senior advisor, how do you see the team progressing throughout the rest of the season?
Charlie: I like exactly where we are at. So far we've been very good. I thought maybe if we could get to the All-Star break at 500, we'd have a good chance. Right now, we're over that. We're sitting right there in first place. We can stay there. We've proven we play with everybody in baseball. There are a couple teams maybe a little stronger than us over in the American League, but I think overall we're much better than a lot of the teams out there. We got a chance to show how good we are.
Some of the best things about our team is the more we play, the more experience we get. And I feel like we're going to improve and down the road, it's going to help us get better.
6abc.com: So, even though we all want it to happen, if this year isn't the year the Phillies go all the way, fans shouldn't see it as a disappointment, but be excited of what's to come, right?
Charlie: Right. I think we've made a lot of progress with our record, and the way our players play speaks for itself, and I look for us to compete for quite a while.
6abc.com: So you're back here in Philly - what's it like to be Charlie Manuel walking around the streets of Philadelphia? Do you get stopped every few seconds?
Charlie: I do get stopped, but I get mad if people don't stop. (Laughs) It's kind of like the parade, we started out they were screaming 'Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!' I was bashful at first, but the more they started hollering it, the more I liked it and my head started getting bigger.
6abc.com: You mentioned the parade again, so the Eagles had their parade, Villanova had a couple, but you guys brought back the sports parade trend here in Philly. Are you ready to be part of another one?
Charlie: That would be great. I'm sure Citizens Bank would rock, just like it always did. That is our goal. I've been an advisor now for four to five years, and we had a plan like two or three years ago and we're definitely making progress toward that. We have a good chance to go far this year. I'm definitely pulling for the Philadelphia Phillies.
6abc.com: One of the more memorable moments of the World Series parade was Chase Utley's speech. He just returned as a Dodger, but the response from the Phillies fans was incredible. It appears the love for the 2008 team will never stop.
Charlie: Totally. That's one thing about it, in Philadelphia, when you win, they know who you are. Actually, when you get back to people coming up to me, they definitely know who our players are - and they also know who I am, that makes you feel a lot better. Sometimes I don't even know how to act when they talk to me and stop. (Laughs)
6abc.com: One name people are very familiar with is Jim Thome. It was very emotional this past weekend when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. What was it like to be there in attendance and hear how much you meant to him in his life and career?
Charlie: I was saw him stand there going into the Hall of Fame, I think it was tremendous. His hard work, his dedication, his love for the game, and the fact that he doesn't even realize how hard he worked. He definitely deserved to be there. He earned that right. Thome is just like my son really.
6abc.com: On a final note, it's a big weekend for the Phillies. What can fans expect when they come out to the ballpark for these three games?
Charlie: I'm looking forward to watching the team play. That's our first priority. But also too it's going to be big for us to unite and see the players that were on our championship club, of course, and also the alumni and our Hall of Fame guys. Everything about it is going to be good. And our fans our going to enjoy it.
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