PHILADELPHIA -- I can't say for sure whether Game 2 of the National League Championship Series here was the toughest game Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel ever managed, but surely it was. The skipper mostly stayed secluded Friday after learning that his mother had passed away earlier in the day, skipping pre- and post-game news conferences, appearing only when his team was on the field.
Manuel learned that his mother, June, had passed away in Virginia at the age of 87 Friday morning following a pre-game strategy meeting with his coaches. He was in a room with his coaches when he took a phone call and learned the news. His mother had been hospitalized earlier this week.
Making for an even sadder day for the Phillies, outfielder Shane Victorino learned immediately after the game that his grandmother, Irene, had passed away.
As Manuel privately grieved and the club prepared for the Dodgers, news of his mother's death affected the entire club.
"I went up to him right before I warmed up before the game and told him, 'I want to win this for your mom today,'" Phillies starting pitcher Brett Myers said.
Myers said Manuel and his mother were on his mind for much of the game.
"I told him after the third or fourth inning that I loved him," said Myers, who notably became involved in a dugout shouting match with his manager earlier this season, an argument in which the two men had to be separated by Phillies coaches.
Manuel's response to Myers' expression of love?
"He said, 'Let's go! Pitch, kid!'" Myers said, slipping into a dead-on impression of Manuel's West Virginia accent.
"It was tough," said closer Brad Lidge, who collected his second save in as many games in this NLCS. "I think we all tried to make our rounds to him and tell him we're sorry for his loss. Even though we didn't say it verbally, I think we all wanted to win this game for him. You play baseball, but family comes first.
"I'm glad we won today. Whether people say it or not, we all have a ton of respect for him."
The Phillies did not have any information on services for June Manuel. After the game, a club spokesman said Charlie was planning to board the team charter to Los Angeles for Game 3 of the NLCS on Sunday in Dodger Stadium.