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Issue Date: April 2010


Manny Acta


Interview by Jeannie Roberts, photograph by Dan Mendlik

Manny Acta's second major league managerial job is the one that matters most to us. Still, histwo-and-a-half years running the woeful Washington Nationals will linger in our minds until Acta's Indians wipe away our ugly memories of last year's 97-loss season. "If you don't win, it doesn't mean you have completely failed," he says. "But you have to give your complete effort. That's what I want." Acta knows about effort. A native of the Dominican Republic, he was signed at 17 by the Houston Astros but never reached the big leagues as a player. As a manager, he won a championship in the Dominican Winter League in 2003 and led the Dominican team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

When I'm in, I'm in.

I don't like losing, but I'm not a sore loser. When my daughter Leslie was little, my wife, Cindy, wanted me to let her win just to make her feel good. But I didn't know how to do it. You play to win; that's the bottom line.

Leslie can beat me in a lot of things now, like using a computer; she's got some advantages there. Daddy can't beat her in everything any more, but I can beat her at pool.

I don't get the best out of my daughters by yelling and screaming at them. You try to encourage them to get better, right? Why would you yell and scream? I try to treat my players the same way.

The thing I am most afraid of is deep waters. My biggest nightmare is drowning.

I used to think about that growing up if I had an episode in the pool or on the beach. It's terrifying trying to breathe.

Leslie's a great swimmer, and so is my wife. They have that on me.

I don't have room in my life for violence. Not in any form. I don't like to watch violent movies. What I really love is chick flicks. I'm a big romantic comedy type of guy.

I'll tell you what, talk about romantic: Untamed Heart with Christian Slater and Marisa Tomei. You go watch that movie, and if you don't cry, call me because there's something wrong with you.

My only real hobby is golf, and I'm not even very good at it.

I don't want to get to the point of throwing clubs around or anything. That's the way you end up on YouTube, and if you end up on YouTube, it's usually not for a very good thing. I want to stay off YouTube.

I don't watch the news because I don't like depressing things. My motto is "The less I know the happier I am." That's how I can cope with everything that comes at me with this job.

I was finally able to make it to the big leagues [as third base coach] in 2002 with Montreal. I couldn't believe it was real. When I heard the national anthem on opening day, I thought, Wow, I finally made it to the big leagues. I had tears coming down my face, and I'll never forget how that felt.

I learned English from a book that had 800 basic English words. I was always picked out to be the translator between my coaches and teammates.

I married Cindy in 1989. But she didn't speak Spanish, so I learned more and more English. When I was in Class A in Kissimmee, [Fla.], she lived in the same apartment building as I did. One of my teammates said, "There's a lady here, but we can't communicate with her. Maybe you could talk to her." We've been married almost 22 years.

This really is the land of the free, and I am living proof of that. I'm proud to be an American citizen and a Dominican citizen. Becoming a United States citizen was one of the best moments of my life. Everything I have, I owe to being able to come to this country to follow my dream.

I like for people to know that I'm just like them. I'm a guy who lives a simple life.

I grew up idolizing Felipe Alou because he opened the door for Dominicans like me. We were playing baseball with rolled up rags and milk cartons, and we all wanted to make it.

Frank Robinson gave me the opportunity to expand my wings and fly. He allowed me to showcase myself to an extent that now I am still in the big leagues as a manager.

I think back to when I won my first championship in the minor leagues and in winter ball. When you win a championship, you can't even talk; the feeling is so deep inside of you.

This team has such a passionate fan base in Cleveland, and I'm telling you, exciting times are coming to Cleveland. Winning a championship here, wow, that moment will be. ... I can't even imagine what that will be like.


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