Manuel expresses appreciation for champ Hopkins

Manuel expresses appreciation for champ Hopkins
May 26, 2011, 12:44 am

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Posted: 8:45 p.m.

By John R. Finger
CSNPhilly.com

Covering baseball isnt like most other sports. For the media, the essence of the game bleeds through to other areas, too. Baseball is not really all that progressive and change comes very slowly.

Worse, there is a ton of time just spent standing around.

But over the course of a long baseball with its lulls and dry periods, writers long for anything off the beaten path to chat about. Before Wednesday nights game against the Cincinnati Reds at the Bank, manager Charlie Manuel offered just that sort of moment.

Actually, it was one of the more spellbinding tangents from a guy prone to interesting storytelling. Oh, Charlie will spin a yarn if he gets going, but it usually takes some sort of impetus to set it up. For instance, a trip to Washington, D.C. might result in a bunch of stories about one-time Senators manager Ted Williams, a personal favorite to the manager.

However, Wednesdays anecdotal session popped out from the thin air. One moment Manuel was answering a question about rightfielder Dom Brown and then, with no segue whatsoever, began talking about the time he met Bernard Hopkins and the admiration he has for the newly crowned light heavyweight champion.

Actually, Manuel began talking about Hopkins by explaining how he saw the fighter on Comcast SportsNets Daily News Live. That interview from Tuesdays program with Michael Barkann, as well as writers Elmer Smith and Dick Jerardi, impressed Manuel so much that he brought up the time Hopkins came to the ballpark, pulled up a chair in the managers office and went on a spiel.

Kind of like how Manuel did on Wednesday.

Manuel says he didnt say much to Hopkins mostly because he was so enthralled with what the fighter had to say.

He did most of the talking, Manuel said. He really impressed me that day. I thought thats one tough guy, mentally and physically, who wants to be a champion.

Hopkins, of course, beat Jean Pascal in a unanimous decision last Saturday in Montreal to win the WBC, IBO and The Ring light heavyweight belts. In doing so, he became the oldest man to hold a legitimate championship in the sport at age 46. George Foreman previously had the record when he beat Michael Moorer for the heavyweight title at age 45 in 1994.

Nevertheless, Hopkins, a Philly guy from Germantown, is notorious for espousing his views on the local sports teams and local athletes. In fact, Hopkins has been known to create controversies with comments about Donovan McNabb that spurred up from a sleight Hopkins said he got from the former Eagles quarterback approximately seven years ago.

Hopkins also famously went to Graterford Prison at age 17 for nine felonies and was sentenced to 18 years, but served five. When asked how familiar with Hopkins history he was, Manuel said he was unaware of that aspect of the fighters resume. Fact is, its doubtful those things would even matter to the manager. As a motivator and an athlete, Manuel saw something from Hopkins he doesnt see in too many others.

I know he wants to be a champion, Manuel said.

He was right on about how youre supposed to go about your business. Thats what separates the average guy from the really good one.

In fact, Manuel says he wants to invite Hopkins back to the ballpark to continue the conversation. Actually, according to Hopkins PR representative, a Phillies public relations official already reached out to the fighters camp.

Hes got it, I love listening to him, Manuel said. Im going to invite him back. I definitely want to have him talk to our team. I wish he could hit, Id sign him.

Actually, Hopkins can hit. Based on last Saturdays result, he hits a lot.
E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com

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