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Nationals introduce Acta as new manager
Nationals GM Jim Bowden (right) says he's thoroughly convinced Manny Acta (left) is the perfect fit for the team--and the uniform.
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Date published: 11/15/2006
WASHINGTON--His favorite number 14 was already stitched in red as Manny Acta pulled the white Nationals' uniform top over his navy blue suit and fastened the top few buttons.
Then, standing on a podium in the atrium of a Washington Square office building that serves as the headquarters for the Nationals' owners, Major League Baseball's newest--and youngest--manager, turned toward his new bosses.
It fit "perfect," he said.
Acta was formally announced as the Nationals' manager yesterday after an exhaustive six-week search, and in the 37-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, team officials believe they've found their man: a young and energetic leader that will spearhead the Nationals in a rebuilding effort and a personable ambassador with deep ties to Latin America that can help the team grab a share of the potent international talent market.
"How appropriate, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic like me comes to America, works hard, keeps his nose clean and gets his chance to manage the capital of the United States' baseball team," Acta said. "God bless America. Only here."
Acta replaces Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, a 71-year-old who was baseball's oldest manager when he was fired during the final week of a 71-91 season. Acta is the fourth manager from the Dominican Republic, and he received a two-year contract from the Nationals with separate club options for a third and fourth season.
Team officials stayed quiet during the month-and-a-half search for a manager, working from separate lists of experienced candidates and up-and-coming managerial prospects.
Lou Piniella, Joe Girardi, Terry Pendleton, Tony Pena, Dusty Baker, John Russell and Trent Jewett all were contacted by the Nationals--and there may have been other candidates not publicly named--but Acta interviewed in Washington Oct. 24 and blew team officials away.
"Usually, with a manager, they're strong in one area or the other. He's really well-balanced, all the way around," general manager Jim Bowden said. "He really understands teaching, developing, building a young club. He has great people skills, but he knows how to put the hammer down."
Acta was also a candidate for three other major league jobs, but he spent the day in Washington, meeting with team officials and even Mark Lerner, the team's principal owner.