Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Florida Marlins are in a desperate state after losing 17 of their last 18 games and falling all the way to last place in the NL East. The Marlins needed a new manager after Edwin Rodriguez unexpectedly quit Sunday.
So, the Marlins turned to an old reliable face to try and resurrect what’s left of the Marlins 2011 season. Jack McKeon, 80, will return to the franchise he took to the 2003 World Series championship.
“I had a little siesta, a few years, but that’s been my m.o.,” McKeon said Monday afternoon.
McKeon will return on an interim basis, but could manage the team through the rest of the season.
He will become one of the oldest managers in Major League Baseball history alongside Connie Mack. McKeon will turn 81 in November; Mack was 87 during his final season managing the Philadelphia Athletics in 1950.
McKeon has not managed or been in the Majors since leaving the Marlins after the 2005 season, but has been a regular around the stadium in recent years.
Still, McKeon is encouraged by the Marlins roster.
“I think we got a club,” McKeon said. “They showed us early in the year that this club can win.”
“I’m very confident there’s enough talent in that room, to maybe, if we get things right, to play in October,” McKeon continued.
The Marlins front office described the current state of affairs as “a time of need for this organization.” But as good as McKeon did in 2003, he did temper expectations a little.
“I’m not a miracle worker,” McKeon said.
McKeon is expected to bring a hard-nosed manner to the managerial role which may be just what the younger players need to mature in the game.
“I hope I can get these guys to play unselfish baseball and do the things needed to win,” McKeon said. And, “leave your egos at the door.”
And when it comes to age, McKeon had a message for the media.
“They said the same thing about Joe Paterno and he’s going at 85,” McKeon said. “Why should experience be penalized? I’m rooting for Paterno to go to 90; maybe I can catch him.”
And don’t think McKeon will be missed much by his family.
“My wife was probably happy to get me out of the house,” McKeon said. “I miss my dog though, probably only thing I miss.”
His first jobs will be to try to right the ship of poor hitting with runners in scoring position and to try and inject some life into an anemic starting pitching squad.
If the Marlins turn it around, there’s a chance McKeon may take the field with the Marlins in the new stadium.
“You never rule anything out,” McKeon said.