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McKeon counts his blessings


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12/24/2003 8:00 AM ET

McKeon counts his blessings

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

 

MIAMI -- Marlins manager Jack McKeon often repeats the catch phrase of his former boss, legendary but frugal Charlie Finley.

When McKeon managed the A's in the 1970s, Finley had a stock answer for making personnel moves and the impact it had on new players.

 

"When Mr. Opportunity knocks," Finley would say, "open the door."

 

Mr. Opportunity knocked for McKeon with the Marlins on May 11. At age 72, McKeon was lured out of retirement for the opportunity to turn the fortunes of a struggling franchise.

 

With 53 years of professional baseball experience under his belt, McKeon was confident he could make a difference in South Florida. But even he is a bit surprised that the Marlins pulled off one of the most remarkable turnarounds in baseball history.

 

Under McKeon, the Marlins went from 10-games under .500 to win the Wild Card race and eventually the World Series.

 

Had Mr. Opportunity not knocked, McKeon was perfectly content living the retired life with his wife, Carol, and surrounded by family in Elon, N.C.

 

A daily churchgoer, McKeon often counts his blessings for being afforded another chance and proving as he says, "age is just a number."

 

In this holiday season, McKeon cherishes his health, a chance to manage again in 2004 with an opportunity to defend the title and being with his family.

 

A throwback baseball man, McKeon's admits the game is his life. He's not much for sentimental gifts, and the years have clouded his memory on specific toys.

 

In many ways, McKeon feels like his Christmas came on Oct. 25 when the Marlins knocked off the Yankees, 2-0, in Game 6 of the World Series, completing the most enjoyable baseball year of his life.

 

MLB.com caught up with the National League Manager of the Year recently to cover what life is like at the McKeon household around Christmastime.

 

MLB.com: You go to church daily year round, do you go to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve?

 

McKeon: As a family we get together late afternoon and we go to church around 6 or 7 o'clock. When it's over, we all come back to the house for what you would call a little happy hour.

 

MLB.com: Are you a big fan of holiday movies?

 

McKeon: I'm not a movie guy. I don't think I've been in the theater in 25 years. I watch SportsCenter, ESPN2, or how many basketball games as I can find (laughs). As for Christmas movies, I enjoy the classics. If I had to pick one, I'd say "Miracle on 34th Street." Good story.

 

MLB.com: How about holiday music? What would be your favorite song?

 

McKeon: I like that traditional stuff. Bing Crosby. Perry Como. Lawrence Welk. The institutions (laughs). You can't go wrong with "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby.

 

MLB.com: Looking back through the years, is there a favorite Christmas gift you received -- something from your childhood perhaps?

 

McKeon: Not really. I'm a loser when it comes to starting to remember all the stuff that normal people remember. All I remember is getting ready to play a game. I'd say it would have been something related to baseball. Maybe a bat. That's a bad one.

 

MLB.com: What kind of dinner do you have at your place?

 

McKeon: A traditional dinner. We get the whole family together on Christmas Eve. Around 9 o'clock we'll have dinner. There's a ton of food, and everyone has a good time.

 

MLB.com: Does your family have any personal traditions?

 

McKeon: Oh yeah. Each year one of the kids will tell a little Christmas story of what happened through the year. We will record it. Someone is in charge of giving the little speech. It's almost like they are reading a family newsletter.

 

MLB.com: Does the family sing on Christmas Eve?

 

McKeon: One of the kids will prepare the music for all of us to sing. Everybody in the family chips in.

 

MLB.com: How many people are over your place on those nights?

 

McKeon: I'd say anywhere from 18 to 22. We've got our four kids and their wives. We have nine grandchildren. Usually some of the in-laws come over too. It's a good time.

 

MLB.com: You are out there with all that land in North Carolina. Do you cut down your own Christmas tree?

 

McKeon: No. We've got one tree that is a pain-in-the-neck. I told my wife I was going to get a hernia lifting this thing. It's a what-do-you-call it? It's artificial. It's a big baby. All I do is put it up and don't worry about it.

 

MLB.com: On Christmas Eve, do you generally read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas?"

 

McKeon: No. I generally read the stats of the last season (laughs).

 

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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I hope you die SorianoFanHFW

 

 

 

really I do

 

 

 

 

 

just kidding :rolleyes:

yes, this is quite fun

its christmas eve...try not annoying people!

I wonder how many were people who jumped from hating him as a Sox player and Jays player to calling for your head...

Their feeble minds were brainwashed by the ny media. look at clemens' seasons with NY, they really weren't that good (besides his mediocre cy young season.) They're bandwagoners the most of them, but most fans are. The mets fanbase dropped off dramatically after they fall out of contention, but I still root for my mets...and my buffalo bills.

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