SACRAMENTO - During these sunny winter afternoons, you can find Sacramento's Jerry Manuel tossing balls to inner city youth. Four years removed from Major League Baseball he is long way from his days with the New York Mets and the White Sox where he won the American League Manager of the Year.
"There is no doubt, no doubt," said Manuel when asked if he would still wants to manage in the Major Leagues. "Once you manage two visible markets such as Chicago and New York and you've seen the sport you love at the highest level and that is always exciting."
But instead of sitting by the phone, hoping a franchise might call, Manuel has used his free time to give back to the community he loves.
"I didn't want to wait around, when I knew there was an opportunity to impact some kids," Manuel told News10.
For the past several years his Jerry Manuel Foundationhas opened a charter school in the Elverta area of North Sacramento to not only monitor and help inner city kids with their education, but to reintroduce them to the game of baseball.
"I have seen the number of African Americans drop significantly at the major league level from 22 to 25 percent when I was coming up to less than eight percent," said the former Cordova High star. "For that to happen there has been a disconnect with our cultural. Our cultural was rich. We gave baseball Jackie Robinson, Ozzie Smith, and Willie Mays."
But part of his challenge has been getting inner city kids interested in the game, and pull them away from the allure of the NBA and NFL.
"It is a difficult thing, because they don't have that model to attach themselves with or to be connected with," said Manuel. "Matt Kemp probably could walk through our inner city and nobody would know him, but if LeBron walked through there he wouldn't get half way through."
Manuel's work with the community reaches beyond the inner city. For the past several years, he has been an advisor to William Jessup University. Next year, the Warriors will launch their first ever college baseball program.
"For them to get a baseball program, I think it brings some excitement back to the area," said Manuel. We've got a coach (Mike Hankins), they have acquired a place to play until they get their facilities up and running."
His hope, as both William Jessup and his charter school evolve is to eventually make baseball better for the entire region.
"I want to give some kids who might not have made the division one team, our Sacramento State or City team give them another opportunity to develop, because you never know," said Manuel.