Charlie Manuel was back home Saturday.

The manager of the world champion Phillies returned to Buena Vista in Virginia and received a hometown hero's welcome. The mayor declared it "Charlie Manuel Day" and his No. 32 was retired at Parry McCluer High School.

Manuel also signed autographs as part of the Blues Education Foundation's inaugural Signature Event and Silent Auction to help raise money for the city schools. Four hundred tickets were sold for the event.

"For me, it's always good to come back to Buena Vista," Manuel told the News Leader, of Staunton, Va. "This is where I grew up as a kid, and I tell everybody all the time, I couldn't have picked a better place as a kid and a teenager to grow up. I lived exactly where I wanted to live, it was absolutely perfect and I've always thought a whole lot about where I grew up."

Manuel played baseball, basketball and football, and was a track and field athlete in high school.

"I'll always feel [like a] part of Buena Vista," Manuel said. "If you want to know the truth, I feel like I am Buena Vista. I feel like I own Buena Vista."

Manuel also took the opportunity to laud Phillies fans for their support and reflect on the championship parade.

"When we won, it became all about the city, all about the fans and actually, I learned a whole lot from it because I never realized when I was in the parade and there's 2 1/2, 3 million people - guys like yourselves, older guys and women, kids, young women, teenagers, boys - and they would actually be crying and thanking you," he said.

"They'd come up and touch you and tell you that they love you and stuff. That's one of the biggest things about it. Everything about it became real, and that's the part that I'll always remember. It was one of the best things that I've ever had happen to me in sports." *