At 39, Manny Acta was MLB’s youngest manager entering the 2008 campaign. After a thorough search, his hiring as Nationals manager was announced at a press conference on November 14, 2006 at Washington Square in downtown Washington, DC. Acta became the 2nd manager in the history of the Washington Nationals and the 12th in the history of the franchise when he replaced Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson, who managed the Nationals/Expos for 5 seasons (2002-06). Acta was 37 years old at the time of the appointment and immediately became the youngest active manager in baseball. He was the 2nd-youngest manager in franchise annals (Tom Runnels was 36 upon getting the job in 1991). A native of the Dominican Republic’s highest profile baseball city, San Pedro de Macoris, Manny became just the 4th native of the Dominican Republic to manage in the big leagues, joining Felipe Alou (1992-2001, 2003-06 with MON and SFG), Tony Pena (2002-05 with KCR) and Luis Pujols (2002 with DET). With retirement of Alou, Manny became baseball’s lone active manager from the Dominican Republic and sports dual citizenship (Dominican Republic and United States). He became a United States citizen in 1999. Acta was the 4th of 5 first-time managers hired prior to the 2007 campaign, joining Freddy Gonzalez (FLA), Bud Black (SDP), Ron Washington (TEX) and Bob Geren (OAK). He prepped for his current post while coaching third base in the highly competitive NL East for 5 straight seasons (2002-06) and thus, is a veteran of over 375 intradivision contests. Bolstering Acta’s managerial resume are 2 Manager of the Year citations (Single-A Florida State League in 1999, Dominican Winter League in 2003-04). Acta was already familiar with the Nationals organization having spent 3 seasons (2002-04) as Expos’ 3B coach. 7 Nationals coaches or players worked with Acta during his tenure on the Expos’ coaching staff: Randy St. Claire, John Patterson, Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, Luis Ayala, Shawn Hill, and Nick Johnson.
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
Before being hired in DC, Acta was perhaps best known for managing the Dominican Republic’s entry in the inaugural World Baseball Classic (February/March of 2006). The Dominican Republic team reached the WBC’s Final Four before falling to Cuba 3-1 in the semis on March 18 and being eliminated. Acta was widely praised for his handling of the Dominican Republic’s star-studded roster that included, among others, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Alfonso Soriano, Ronnie Belliard, Miguel Tejada, Francisco Liriano and Bartolo Colon. Despite numerous potential pitfalls pertaining to playing time, the Dominican squad played with heart, spirit and vigor throughout the tournament.
BIG LEAGUE MANAGING / COACHING EXPERIENCE
Manny Acta has been in MLB for 6 straight seasons with the Indians, Nationals, Mets and Expos (2002-present). His teams posted a winning record in 4 of those 6 seasons.
2010 SEASON: Acta took over manager responsibilities for the Cleveland Indians after being sought after during the off-season by both the Houston Astros and Indians ball clubs.
2007-2009 SEASON: Acta inherited a club projected to lose 100-plus games by “experts,” yet guided the Nationals to 73-89 mark (.451) and a 4th-place finish in rugged NL East in his managerial debut. The franchise avoided the NL East cellar for first time since 2003. He instilled various “preach and teach” techniques within the young ballclub and put focus on team-oriented “smart” baseball. He demanded hard-work and no-excuse attitudes, yet showed prolonged confidence and ability to relate in a young clubhouse. He employed 14 rookies and 13 starting pitchers (tied for 3rd in MLB). The Nationals went 41-40 in games decided by 2 runs or less, including a 27-24 mark in one-run contests. As manager, Acta made an all-time MLB-record 588 pitching changes. He pushed for defensive excellence and the Nationals delivered by committing just 109 errors, or 16.8 percent less than in 2006, when Washington made an MLB-leading 130 miscues. Washington also flashed dramatic improvement with 153 double plays (up 24.3% from 2006) and just 22 multi-error games (down 24.1% from 2006). The Nationals’ .982 fielding percentage–up from last season’s .978 mark–was the 6th-best single-season mark in the franchise’s 39 NL seasons.
2006 SEASON: Acta reached the post-season for first time in his 2nd season with the New York Mets. He helped the club post 97 wins, which not only tied the New York Yankees for the most in MLB, the wins were 9 more than any other National League club posted. He waved in 834 runs, which represented the 2nd-highest single-season total in Mets history. Acta flashed signals to Jose Reyes, who swiped an MLB-leading 64 stolen bases and tutored infielders that made just 57 errors. Acta lived in same apartment building that was the site of Cory Lidle’s plane crash on October 12.
2005 SEASON: In first season with New York Mets, the club posted 12 more wins than the season prior. Manny worked closely with Jose Reyes and David Wright, both of whom were in their first complete big league campaigns. Acta inherited a NYM club that made 97 infield errors in 2004. In his first season (2005) piloting infield drills and alignment, NYM infielders made 77 errors, or 20 fewer than the season prior.
2004 SEASON: Acta astutely directed traffic as the third base coach for the Expos in their 36th and final season in Montreal. For the 3rd straight season, he served as a Spanish-English translator for the Expos’ front office, coaching staff and media in the club’s heavily-Latin clubhouse.
2003 SEASON: The Expos’ infield defense improved dramatically in ’03, making 28 fewer errors than in 2002. Acta worked closely with Orlando Cabrera, who regained his Gold Glove form by making 11 fewer errors and improved fielding percentage by .013 compared to an injury-plagued 2002 season. The Expos won 83 games and were tied for Wild Card lead as late as August 28.
2002 SEASON: Manny Acta played a large role as the Expos made a remarkable run by finishing 2nd in the NL East with an 83-79 mark. Montreal remained in post-season contention for much of the summer. Acta aided the Expos front-office, management and media by serving as an interpreter in a clubhouse with a distinct Latin influence.
MINOR LEAGUE / WINTER LEAGUE MANAGERIAL EXPERIENCE
In the United States, Manny was a member of Houston’s player-development staff for a decade (1992-2001), including 8 seasons as a minor-league manager (1993-2000). He spent four of those eight seasons as manager, with the club posting a winning record, including a pair of first-place finishes and post-season berths. Billy Wagner, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge, Julio Lugo and Morgan Ensberg are among the numerous current big leaguers to have played for Acta during his decade with the Astros. While there he also managed Tim Redding (12-5, 2.68) in Kissimmee in 2000.
WINTER LEAGUES: Manny gained top-flight managerial experience during 4 seasons managing in the Dominican and Venezuelan winter leagues. He began his winter-league managerial career with Caracas in 1999. After skippering a winter (2002-03) with Estrellas, Manny spent 2 off-seasons (2003-04, ’04-05) managing the powerful Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League. In 2003-04, he guided Licey to a Dominican Winter League Championship, was named Manager of the Year, and subsequently, skippered the DWL to a Caribbean Series title. With a 4-3 win over Puerto Rico on February 6, the DWL capped the double round-robin format with a 5-1 record that clinched the Caribbean Series. Among those to play for Licey in ’03-04: Ronnie Belliard, Tony Blanco, D’Angelo Jimenez and John Patterson. Licey then followed that up by posting the DWL’s best regular-season record in 2004-05.
An infielder during his playing career encompassing six professional seasons within the Astros organization, Acta was a career .236 hitter. He retired after the 1991 season. He posted a career-best 40 RBI and 10 stolen bases with Osceola of the Single-A Florida State League in 1988.
Manny and his wife, Cindy, have two daughters, Jennifer and Leslie. Manny earned U.S. citizenship in 1999, and thus owns dual citizenship. As a player, he learned English by reading a book called Basic English. Acta was known to emphasize the importance of learning English and spent time tutoring fellow Spanish-speaking players. He is a graduate of San Esteban Episcopal School in San Pedro de Macoris. Acta grew up with numerous big leaguers as neighbors, including Tony Fernandez and George Bell. He likes to listen to music and plays golf in his leisure time.