Marlins hire 80-year-old McKeon as interim manager

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Marlins hire 80-year-old McKeon as interim manager

MIAMI - The Florida Marlins have defended the decision to hire 80-year-old Jack McKeon as interim manager.

Marlins president David Samson said the octogenarian works harder than many people half his age and seems even sharper mentally than in 2003, when he led Florida to an improbable World Series championship.

In response to the comments, a grinning McKeon intentionally messed up Samson’s name.

“Thanks, George,’’ McKeon said.

The new, old skipper drew some laughs at his re-introductory news conference Monday, but the hiring was no joke. Nearly six years after McKeon retired as the Marlins’ manager, he returned to his former job on an interim basis and will lead the team for the rest of the season.

He becomes the second-oldest manager in major league history. Connie Mack managed the Philadelphia Athletics in a suit, tie and straw hat until 1950, when he was 87.

“I’ve managed since I was 14-years-old,’’ he jokingly said. “I’ll probably manage until I’m 95.’’

The cigar-chomping McKeon succeeds manager Edwin Rodriguez, who resigned as manager of the NL East’s last-place team before Sunday’s loss at Tampa Bay.

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