Jerry Manuel will once again make Shea Stadium his home base this summer. But the New York Mets bench coach will also be thinking about another brand of baseball much closer to his roots in Sacramento.
William Jessup University announced this week that Manuel will be leading the effort to establish a baseball program on its Rocklin campus. The Warriors are hoping to field an National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) team by the spring of 2009.
Manuel, 53, grew up in Rancho Cordova and played Major League Baseball for five teams during the 1970s and early Ô80s. He was named the American League Manager of the Year in 2000 and last year helped the Mets win the National League East Division.
ÒWe feel extremely fortunate to have a tremendous baseball person like Jerry Manuel heading up the effort to start our program,Ó university President Bryce Jessup said. ÒJerry is extremely knowledgeable in all facets of baseball and his deep faith makes him the ideal person to be interacting with our young Christian athletes.Ó
Manuel, who leaves for spring training Thursday, will be involved in recruiting, establishing the programÕs guidelines, and fund-raising efforts for a baseball stadium on the campus grounds.
ÒThis is an exciting opportunity for me, I will be able to set the entire program in motion,Ó said Manuel, who managed the White Sox from 1998 to 2003. ÒIÕve always wanted to be involved in collegiate athletics and this is such a good fit for me. William Jessup is a Christian university and the environment will liberate me to do my own thing.Ó
After his playing career ended, Manuel became a scout with the White Sox in 1985. He was third base coach for the Montreal Expos for six years and served as bench coach when Jim Leyland guided the Florida Marlins to a World Series victory in 1997.
Manuel became the White Sox manager in 1998, taking over a struggling team. Two years later he guided Chicago to a division title with a 95-67 record, a 20-game improvement over the previous season. He had a 500-471 record during his six years as White Sox manager.
An El Dorado Hills resident, Manuel is looking to relocate somewhere in Placer County close to the University. He hasnÕt ruled out becoming William JessupÕs first baseball coach.
ÒI would still like to manage in the Major Leagues, but if the right opportunity doesnÕt come along I would love to be the first head coach at William Jessup University,Ó Manuel said. ÒIt would be a tremendous opportunity to impact young men at what I consider an impressionable age.Ó
Anthony Manuel, JerryÕs son, will also have a role in starting the William Jessup University program. The younger Manuel, 24, is currently a minor league infielder in the Mets organization.
William Jessup University is located at 333 Sunset Blvd. For more information, visit www.jessup.edu or call (916) 577-2200.
- Halldin PR