Who's your pick for Phillies' best manager since the Vet opened in 1971?

Seven of the 13 men who managed the Philadelphia Phillies since Veterans Stadium opened in 1971 were let go before a season ended: Frank Lucchesi, Danny Ozark, Pat Corrales, John Felske, Lee Elia, Nick Leyva and Charlie Manuel.

There were few tears when the first six members were relieved of their duties.

But on Aug. 16, there were those who have been around the Phillies — and not employed by the club — who couldn't look Manuel in the eye for fear of breaking down.

Manuel was unceremoniously fired — a word the Phillies refused to use — after a 53-67 start to this season.

It hardly was his fault. His boss put together a team full of holes. Many players either got hurt or underachieved.

But, in the one of dumbest traditions in sports, the manager is the only one removed from a bad situation.

There have been many sad images in the Phillies' lengthy lore. Few are more difficult than those of Manuel walking alone, out of uniform, up the tunnel underneath Citizens Bank Park and not making a left turn into the Phillies clubhouse.

The stubborn baseball lifer from Virginia wasn't the best manager of his generation, but he was the best field boss the club has had since 1971 — and better than almost all of the 51 others who previously managed in the team's 131-year history.

For that, he deserved a better send-off.

Manuel won a franchise-record 786 games with six consecutive winning seasons from 2005-11 before the Phillies finished .500 last season and stumbled mightily in 2013. He had a career mark of 1,000-826.

The club won its second World Series under his watch (2008) and captured five consecutive National League East Division titles (2007-11).

Dallas Green (169-130) was in charge of the 1980 World Series championship club that was built by GM Paul Owens, a Phillies lifer, and Ozark, who was fired as manager during the 1979 season.

Ozark (594-510) was hired by Owens in 1973 and used youthful talent such as Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa and Bob Boone and veterans acquired by Owens to build a winning culture in Philly. He won three consecutive division titles (1976-78), but came up short each time in the National League playoffs.

Jim Fregosi was one of only two other managers in the last 33 years (Owens was the other in 1983) to lead the Phillies to a World Series, doing so in 1993. It was the lone year of his six-year tenure in which the club had a winning record.

Bowa's fiery personality led the team to four consecutive seasons of at least 80 wins, but he was let go after the 2004 season. That led to Manuel's hiring.

The team continued to come up short of a postseason return until a 2006 trade deadline move sending veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu to the New York Yankees seemed to ignite the team and change the clubhouse culture.

Under Manuel's watch the next season, they started the most successful run in franchise history.

A crop of homegrown talent — including Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley — again led the uprise.

However, Howard and Utley have been hampered in recent years by injuries and Rollins' offensive output continues to slide. The inability to put together a functional outfield and bullpen hurried the Phillies' downhill run in 2013.

Manuel, who has had a laundry list of his own health problems, was held responsible for the quick decline. He was pushed aside last month so Hall of Fame player Ryne Sandberg could get his first major-league managerial job, albeit it on an interim basis.

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