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Jim Riggleman ( 1952 - )  Category ( Athletes ) [suggest a correction]

Jim RigglemanNothing about Jim Riggleman's prior baseball career is very exciting, but the new manager of the Washington Nationals does radiate stability. At this point, perhaps that's what the youthful and floundering Nationals need most.

If nothing else, the 57-year-old Riggleman is back home. He grew up in the Maryland suburbs around Washington, grew to idolize an obscure Washington Senators' infielder named Danny O'Connell, and played his college baseball at Frostburg (MD) State. By then, his adulation had turned to Baltimore Orioles' All-Star Brooks Robinson.

Riggleman never became Brooks Robinson, though, or even made it to the big leagues. Drafted in the fourth round of the 1974 major league draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, he spent seven years in the minor leagues with the Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals before realizing that success as a player wasn't going to happen. So he turned to managing, starting out with the Cardinals' Florida State League team in St. Petersburg.

In one sense, Riggleman is the prototype manager -- a player who had limited natural skills and had to learn the tricks of the game to get by. Even on the bench, though, his record wasn't eye-catching. Riggleman has never won a pennant at any level, his high point coming in 1998, when he managed the Chicago Cubs to the National League wild card berth ion the National League playoffs, only to lose 3-0 to the Atlanta Braves.

Riggleman managed the Cubs from 1995-99, and was also at the helm of the San Diego Padres ('92-'94) and Seattle Mariners (2008-09). He ascended to the top job in Washington after Manny Acta was fired over the All-Star break with a 2009 record of 26-61.

Not afraid to confront players he feels aren't giving their all, Riggleman has been described as a "fiery" manager in the Billy Martin molds. He takes exception to that.

"I think I'm pretty easy," he said in a press conference announcing his hiring in Washington, "in the sense that I understand that the game is hard. But if someone isn't playing hard, that irks me -- if they aren't respectful of the game, the uniform, the fans. I have no problem if you miss a ball, but if you don't chase after it after you miss it, there's a problem."

A managers' impact, Riggleman has said, "is made in the clubhouse, behind the scenes, creating an atmosphere where players can succeed."

Nor will Riggleman try to steal the spotlight away from the members of his team. Ironically, his highest profile came as the result of being unassuming. After he told an interviewer that he always took the train to work in Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority made him the centerpiece of a TV and billboard campaign.

When he became the Nationals' manager, Riggleman praised the work of the man he replaced and told reporters that Manny Acta "was doing everything right, as well as I could tell."

The Jim Riggleman era then began with four straight losses.

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