PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel looked up to see his closer and catcher standing in front of him, smiling. Before saying a word, right-hander Brad Lidge handed him the baseball which had darted away from Rays' batter Eric Hinske for the swinging final strike of the Phillies' World Series-winning season.
The moment affected the manager, who has been in baseball for 46 years as a player, coach and manager."It means I got the ball, dude," Manuel said, with a smile that quickly melted. "The gesture hit me a lot. I'm going to put it in my house and get me a copy of the scorecard." The Lidge-Ruiz battery worked to perfection this season, with Ruiz catching the final out in the majority of Lidge's 48 saves. After clinching the National League pennant against the Dodgers, Ruiz presented Lidge with the baseball, and promised to give him the World Series ball. Lidge said Ruiz could have it, if we wanted it. They came up with a better solution, together. "Charlie deserves it," Lidge said. "We wanted to bring it to him, together." "He's meant so much to us," said Ruiz, who gripped the ball so tightly, that somehow the stitches stayed in. "He should have this ball. He's the reason we did this."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.