In April of 2020, I had the opportunity to chat via Instagram Live with two childhood friends who have since become respected Major League Baseball coaches: Manny Acta and Rodney Linares.
Both Acta and Linares share similar stories; both signed as undrafted free agent infielders in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. Acta was signed in 1986 by the Houston Astros and Linares ten years later in 1996 by the Detroit Tigers. After very short minor league careers, both young men spent time as Minor League coaches/managers… and years later, were rewarded by achieving their hildhood dream of making it to MLB.
The main purpose of my Instagram Live Chats was to take the successes, failures and life experiences of these MLB coaches and present them as an inspiration and hope to the many people facing difficulties and challenges in today’s society. Their principles and examples can be applied to the world of business, and life in general.
Manny Acta is the current third base coach for the Seattle Mariners and former manager for both the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians. As a child he had a dream of becoming an NBA player, but after a strong speech from his father and self-recognition of his abilities to play baseball, he focused his dreams and vision towards the field rather than the court; ultimatelly, this made possible his minor league signing with the Houston Astros at age 17.
He played for 6 years in the Astros minor league system before his coaches realized that his real talent was not as a player, but as a coach. The Astros organization sent Acta to coaching skill school in Sarasota, FL, and after overcoming the frustration of a failed dream of becoming a professional baseball player, he refocused his vision once again and prepared for a new path in life.
Acta set himself in a 25-year goal to make it to MLB as a coach and armed himself for the long road with a positive attitude, willingness to learn and work hard every day. Preparation, persistence, and razor-sharp analytical skills resulted in him making his goal in less than half the time he’d predicted.
In 2003, after 10 years as a minor league coach, he was hired as a third base coach for the Montreal Expos, where he spent three seasons followed by one with the New York Mets. In 2007, the biggest opportunity yet for Acta arrived with the Washington Nationals; becoming only the 3rd Dominican born to manage in MLB (and the first without ever playing at a Major League level), he held this position until 2009.
From 2010-2012, Acta managed the Cleveland Indians. He served as a baseball analyst for ESPN (as part of the Baseball Tonight show during the 2013-2015 seasons), and in 2016 he went back to the field as a third base coach for the Seattle Mariners; a position he still holds.
Acta advises everyone to enjoy the process, dream big, aim high, always carry a positive attitude, and always prepare for when opportunities show up in life. He emphasizes that there is no magic pill for success; rather, it’s the road and the process that prepares you for accomplishments in life.
He insists that preparation and a good mindset are essentials in life; “Your attitude will determine your altitude” is his mantra.
Furthermore, Acta’s “ImpACTA Kids Foundation” in the Dominican Republic has raised a significant amount of both awareness and donations, providing children with opportunities to achieve their dreams. The “ImpACTA Kids Foundation” has awarded thousands of dollars in college scholarships, and their athletic/educational complex in the Dominican Republic village of Consuelo has served as the home facility for the education and development of young kids in the country.
Rodney is the current third base coach for the Tampa Bay Rays. He grew up around baseball, and credits his love and passion for the game to his father Julio Linares (a long-time scout and coach for the Houston Astros). At age 16, his minor league career began with the Detroit Tigers, but a few years later his injury-plagued career came to an end.
Linares’s great discipline, leadership, and analytical skills caught the attention of the Houston Astros staff, and an invitation to coaching skills school in the Dominican Republic was offered. After completing coaching school at the top of his class (while also being the youngest in his class), Linares was offered a job as a coach in the Astros organization at age 21.
He became a minor league manager in 2007… and after having one of the worse years as manager in minor league history, Linares swung back by learning from his mistakes and refocusing his energies. His teams made it to the playoffs five years in a row, earning him Manager of the Year awards in both 2013 and 2015.
In 2018, a moment of frustration arrived when the Houston Astros parted ways with Linares after a 20-year career. He saw this as an opportunity… and a few months and interviews later, the big call came from the Tampa Bay Rays, offering him his first job as an MLB coach.
Linares sees his path to MLB as part of the process; this developed him into a better human being, father, son, coach, and friend. His advice to everyone is not to give up on dreams, prepare for big opportunities, be surrounded by positive & smart people… and be prepared to wait in line and pay your dues in life.
These two coaches have many things in common; but above all, they both have much to teach us about life, persistence and dreaming big. Acta and Linares have shown that overcoming great obstacles by pivoting back stronger and wiser each time is a crucial part of the success process… for anyone and everyone.
Written by Franklin Mateo of Keller Williams Classic Realty
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