McKeon to return as manager, agrees to one-year extension
Posted: Tuesday October 28, 2003 4:46PM; Updated: Wednesday December 31, 2003 8:24PM
MIAMI (AP) -- Jack McKeon got a new car for reaching the World Series. He got a new contract for winning it.
McKeon agreed to a one-year extension and will return to manage the Florida Marlins next season, owner Jeffrey Loria announced Tuesday during the team's World Series celebration.
"I have some good news and a little bad news. The good news is Jack is coming back," Loria said. "The bad news is there's no bad news."
The sides agreed on the deal Monday night, McKeon said.
"I always had no doubt I was coming back," said McKeon, who refused to formally announce his intentions during the season.
McKeon, 72, took over when manager Jeff Torborg was fired in May and engineered the Marlins' turnaround from last place team to World Series champions. Under McKeon, the Marlins posted the best record in baseball during the final four months of the season.
"I'm happy to come back, no question about it," McKeon said. "I think they were very fair. I'm looking forward to having another good year."
He was an unknown entity to many Marlins when he walked into their clubhouse for the first time; first baseman Derrek Lee admitted thinking that McKeon was a new assistant coach. But he quickly won the club over, with his simple, straightforward style quickly catching on among the players quickly.
"It's awesome," pitcher Dontrelle Willis said after hearing Tuesday's news. "I wasn't surprised. He deserves it. We wanted him back."
McKeon became only the second manager to win a World Series after not beginning the season with his club. Bob Lemon managed the New York Yankees to a world title after taking over midway through the 1978 season.
Loria gave McKeon a black Mercedes convertible as a gift before Game 5. The car was sitting in the parking lot at Pro Player Stadium when Loria showed it to McKeon.
"Jack came in here and got the most out of everybody," Loria said. "He told them to leave their egos and stats at the door and that we'd have a lot of fun. He's got a lot of experience and he's got a certain style and way about him that we needed to help these guys perform."
McKeon begins most days by attending Mass. He carries a crucifix and angel medallion in his pocket, and says had it not been for St. Theresa -- a 19th-century nun who had many miracles attributed to her -- he would not have been in baseball.
McKeon said his father wouldn't let him sign to play as a teenager, insisting instead that he go to college. McKeon said he began praying to St. Theresa and eventually his father gave his blessing.
A half-century career has followed, with this being McKeon's first taste of a World Series.
"St. Theresa has always taken pretty good care of me," McKeon said.