PHILADELPHIA -- Pete Mackanin is moving forward while looking back.Mackanin, given an extension to stay with the team as special assistant to general manager Matt Klentak, will be spending his 50th season in baseball with the Phillies after all, just as he hoped.Only in a different role.This special assistant position,
PHILADELPHIA -- Pete Mackanin is moving forward while looking back.
Mackanin, given an extension to stay with the team as special assistant to general manager Matt Klentak, will be spending his 50th season in baseball with the Phillies after all, just as he hoped.
Only in a different role.
This special assistant position, although not fully fleshed out yet, will allow the 66-year-old Mackanin to work close to home in Arizona and draw on the vast experience of a half-century in the game at nearly every position imaginable.
Said Mackanin on his new responsibilities: "Looking at players, evaluating players on other teams for potential trade situations, giving input on whatever he wants me to give input on in many different aspects of the game."
"One thing I am proud of is, I've been a Minor League player, a Minor League manager, a Minor League field coordinator, a Major League advance scout, a coverage scout at the big league level. ... I've been a coach in the Major Leagues, third-base, bench coach, interim manager, manager," Mackanin said, the laundry list of job titles rolling on like an extended off-topic tangent.
Except, these roles are all relevant, both to him and to one another. Together, they create the mosaic of a life in baseball, one consisting of hundreds of little experiences.
Those many roles give Mackanin unique insight on any range of topics, from scouting to player development to running a team on a daily basis. It makes sense, in that way, that Klentak would keep Mackanin on to lend his thoughts across the wider range of the baseball operations web.
The journey, chock full of so many bus rides, plane trips, changed destinations and new job titles, is not lost on him. Mackanin has seen things from every angle, each experience allowing him to appreciate the one before, and the one that came next.
"I went from the big leagues to the Sally League, went on the first road trip, forget how they worked it, the trainers did the laundry and you had to go out in the clubhouse, they threw all the bags and then you had to go look for your bags, there was no deference to the manager for your bag of underwear," Mackanin said of his transition from playing for the Minnesota Twins to managing the Class A Hickory Crawdads in 1997.
"I've done pretty much everything there is to do other than GM, which there is no way I would want that job," Mackanin laughed.
Mackanin knows his limits when it comes to continuing a career in the game. Grateful for the roles he's been given, he's well aware that just 30 people are given the keys to drive a Major League team at any one time.
"I'm just going to see what happens," Mackanin said. "I am fine with what I've got, what I've agreed to. There is the possibility -- and Matt has given me the option -- to do something else that might come up if I so choose."
If he doesn't explore other options, there's a spot for him with Philly.
"I am proud of the fact that I have done all those things, and after 49 years, it's a long time in any industry and not a lot of people can get that far," Mackanin said.
"I look back at my career and I felt this was the best thing I could ever have done in my life."
Instead of testing his limits, for now, Mackanin will adjust to his new role, never losing sight of the journey that must precede a celebration of working three-quarters of one's life in baseball. He's spent more seasons with the Phillies organization than any other, and although he is not thrilled that he won't be at the reins when crossing his 50th-year milestone, he's invested in the team he's seen grow in front of his eyes, under his management.
Sunday may be Mackanin's last game in a Phillies uniform, but the baseball lifer would like to remain with the club long enough to see the players -- his players, to an extent -- raise a trophy wearing those same threads.
"I would truly like to be here when this team wins."
Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.