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Nats tap Manny for all reasons
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

By TODD JACOBSON

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.


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Age: 37

Birthdate: Jan. 11, 1969

Birthplace: San Pedro de Macoris, D.R.

Resides: St. Cloud, Fla.

Family: Wife (Cindy), two daughters

Playing career: Acta was signed by Astros scout Juan Linares in 1986, but the light-hitting infielder never made it above Single-A in six minor league seasons. In 370 minor league games, he hit .236 with six homers and 109 RBIs.

Minor league coaching career: After spending a year as a coach in the Astros' farm system, Acta took over the franchise's New York-Penn League affiliate in Auburn, N.Y. He led Auburn to league title game in 1994. He spent a year at Quad City of the Midwest League and three years with Kissimmee of the Florida State League. In 1999, he was named the FSL manager of the year after leading Kissimmee to the league title. He was a coach with the Astros' Triple-A affiliate in 2001. He compiled a 419-432 record in eight minor league managing seasons.

Major league coaching career: Acta left the Astros' organization in 2002 to join Frank Robinson's coaching staff with the Montreal Expos. He served as Robinson's third base and infield coach for three seasons before leaving the team in 2005 to become a coach with the New York Mets. Acta also managed three seasons in the Dominican Winter League, leading Licey to the Caribbean World Series title in 2003.