PHILADELPHIA -- Terry Collins stood in full uniform in the visiting manager's office at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday, tears welling in his eyes as he reflected on the most difficult moments of his seven years on the job. Collins' voice caught in his throat as he recalled a time last summer when he said to himself, "I'm not sure I can keep doing this." But he continued, and continued, becoming the longest-tenured manager in Mets history.
Collins' time at the helm officially ended Sunday, when he announced his resignation as manager following the Mets' 11-0 loss to the Phillies. He has accepted an advisory role in the Mets' front office, likely with a focus on player development.
"I thought that this was a time for change," said general manager Sandy Alderson, who expects to sign a contract renewal to remain with the Mets. "Change is difficult. But it comes with baseball. Terry's a baseball man. He will be till the day he dies."
Added Collins, who finished with a 551-583 record in seven seasons, setting the franchise record with 1,134 games managed: "This has been a tremendous run. I've had a great time. It's been a wonderful experience."
When the Mets hired Collins as their 20th manager in Nov. 2011, they took a chance on a fiery personality who endured rocky endings as a manager in Houston and Anaheim. Following his resignation from the latter job, Collins spent time managing in Japan, and serving as farm director for both the Dodgers and Mets. He did not believe he would have an opportunity to manage in the Majors again, joking at his introductory press conference that he was not "the evil devil" critics painted him to be.
Even after the Mets hired Collins, the general expectation was that he would oversee the Mets' rebuild and depart once the team became competitive. But Collins stuck around to manage New York to the World Series in 2015, guiding the Mets to consecutive playoff appearances for just the second time in franchise history. Alderson called it the Mets' "rebirth."
Along the way, Collins gained a reputation as a skilled communicator with his players and the media. He also became a lightning rod for his usage of pitchers, making perhaps his most memorable managerial decision when he left Matt Harvey in long enough to allow the tying runners on base in the ninth inning of World Series Game 5 in 2015.
This year, injuries -- a common Mets theme both before and during Collins' tenure -- ravaged their roster, robbing the manager of his best pitcher, hitter and reliever for large swaths of the season. By midsummer, the Mets were out of contention. By September, the prevailing assumption was that Collins, who survived much throughout his tenure, would finally take the fall for the Mets' underperformance.
"He took us from a situation where there were real questions about the organization, and took us to the apex of a World Series," Alderson said. "For that, together with the two playoff appearances, we will all be tremendously grateful."
Early candidates to replace Collins include hitting coach Kevin Long, former White Sox manager Robin Ventura, current Astros bench coach Alex Cora and current A's third-base coach Chip Hale, all of whom have ties to the organization. Because several candidates are on teams competing in the postseason, the interview process could take weeks to complete. The Mets also must make decisions on Collins' coaches in the coming days.
Before tackling all that, they needed closure on Collins.
"I'm hurting for him because I know that this is a huge part of him," pitcher Noah Syndergaard said. "Being part of the Mets family is really important to him."
Collins will remain part of that family for the foreseeable future, but not in his present role. Now 68 years old, Collins has said in the past he had no desire to manage into his 70s.
That did not make the end of an era any less difficult for him.
"I look back and think, I had a batting champion. I had a no-hitter. I had the team hits king and a World Series. I got to watch one of my pitchers start an All-Star Game," Collins said. "So it's been a blast. But it's time."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.