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McKeon, Marlins' 2003 title squad back in Miami

McKeon, Marlins' 2003 title squad back in Miami

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McKeon, Marlins' 2003 title squad back in Miami

MIAMI -- For the 2003 Marlins, patience was not a virtue.

When manager Jack McKeon took over the club on May 11 following the dismissal of Jeff Torborg, Mike Lowell said "Trader Jack" changed the club's mindset.

"What Jack did bring, it was, 'I'm not going to be patient,' attitude, which our team kind of needed that" Lowell said. "He pressed the right buttons."

McKeon, Lowell and members of that World Series championship team were at Marlins Park on Sunday, being honored during a ceremony before Miami's series finale with Cleveland.

McKeon took over a club with a losing record and went 75-49 down the stretch. He helped the Marlins clinch the National League's Wild Card spot with a 91-71 record.

He then led the franchise to its second World Series championship, becoming the oldest manager to ever win a Fall Classic, accomplishing the feat at 72.

"We trusted him," Carl Pavano said. "When you trust your manager, he's able to get away with more than most guys than if you don't trust your manager.

"He could be brutally honest, and we knew that. None of us would get defensive. He was just trying to make us better, and he's right. He was able to disarm a lot of our egos, so we were able to put them aside, and that's tough to do throughout a season."

The skipper was more than happy to reminisce about the accomplishment surrounded by familiar faces on Sunday afternoon.

"It looks like it happened only two or three years ago," McKeon said. "You still can't get it out of your mind. The parades, stuff like that, the celebration in Yankee Stadium, it's exciting."

McKeon, 82, is in good health since undergoing double bypass surgery on June 3, and he continues to exercise daily. However, when he celebrated the 2003 World Series on Sunday afternoon, he did so without his signature cigar.

"I've got to give them up," McKeon said. "That's the toughest part. The toughest thing to do. I hate it, but if I've got a warranty for 20 more years, I don't mind giving them up."

Miami Marlins president David Samson was especially impressed by how quickly McKeon got back on his feet. He also says McKeon's days in baseball are not done.

"He's got one thing in mind," Samson said. "He wants to beat Connie Mack's record [as oldest manager]. He wants to manage when he's 87, and [team owner Jeffrey Loria] has told him that he will get that chance. He will be able to manage and break the record, and he works very hard to make sure that he can."

Said McKeon: "You can never say never. I said, 'Never,' a couple of times and there I was back. I feel great."

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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