When the Florida Marlins began their World Series victory dance on the infield of Yankee Stadium, no one was more satisfied than Jack McKeon. A rare mix of baseball smarts and quirky humor, the Marlins skipper had been out of the game since 2000, when he was fired by the Cincinnati Reds—a year after being named the National League's top manager. McKeon, now 73, accused the Reds of age bias, so many fans were shocked when he took over one of its youngest teams. The Marlins were 16-22 when he arrived; they finished the regular season at 91-71, thanks to solid pitching and a mandate to have fun. "It's like your kids," he says of his players. "You get on them, but you still love them. I gave them a little tough love." His reward: a championship, a new contract, and another Manager of the Year award.
*The name of this award was originally the Impact Award. In 2008, the awards were renamed as the Inspire Awards.