Manuel’s companion takes ups and downs in stride

It would be easy to dismiss the smartly dressed woman sitting

behind home plate in Game 1 of the National League Championship

Series as disinterested.

Wearing a red jacket and faux fur scarf, this woman put on her

reading glasses and perused the November issue of Elle Decorating

magazine during the early innings.

She didn’t even stand to watch a game-tying home run by

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, didn’t

scream out “Chooch” with the rest of the crowd as it rose around

her. She never saw the blast reach the seats.

Part of her ritual, Missy Martin explained – “To keep myself

even. I’m kind of a high-strung, excitable person.”

Martin has been with

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel for

15 years. As much as anybody in the stands, Martin was keenly

interested in the outcome of Game 1.

“I try to mimic Charlie’s thinking,” Martin said during the

third inning Saturday night, continuing a sentence without

interruption even as a Cody Ross home run gave the San Francisco

Giants the early lead. “Inside, it’s butterflies. It’s like

electricity inside.”

If a game stays tight, Martin often will walk out to their

truck, keeping the radio off. “I’ll play Word Mole on my

BlackBerry,” she said. That’s what she did during Game 2 of the

National League division series, staying out there as the

Phillies mounted their comeback.

She’s superstitious enough to walk out a different door from the

one she entered through. (“So, so silly,” she said of that ritual.)

She’ll listen for the sounds of the crowd to tell her how it turns

out. “I want to wake up and we won.”

Of tough, tough losses, “It feels like a crash.”

And if it’s a win?

“I have to get in [the stadium] and sing ‘High Hopes,’ ” Martin

said.

Either way, she waits for Manuel, driving home the

Phillies’ manager after each game.

She also drops him off at the stadium every morning, usually around

11 a.m. or a little before, then returns later for the game.

Why does she drive him?

“I drive him everywhere. My opinion – he’s too distracted,”

Martin said. “I don’t think he’s focused on the road. He’ll talk

the whole time in. His mind’s always going. I think maybe he gets

it all out on the way in. I just listen.”

And afterward, does the conversation in the truck vary by a win

or loss?

“You’d be surprised,” Martin said. “You might be surprised.

Success in and of itself is not what revs him. He always says,

‘Watch the game. See

how we won,

how we lose.’ He really means that.”

Martin often sits with Maureen Dubee, the wife of the

Phillies’ pitching coach. There are

times they will quietly focus all their energy on the mound, Martin

said. During the season, they’ll also occasionally move around the

stadium. Martin enjoys sitting out in right field, listening to

fans who don’t know who she is. She likes the perspective of

sitting in the second deck just above the Budweiser sign.

She stopped reading newspapers long ago, she said. Nancy, the

usher in the

Phillies’ family section, often will

bring her clips of stories she might like to read, and she will

read them. But she figured out during Manuel’s early years as

Phillies manager, she said, whatever

anyone wrote, “it really doesn’t matter. If they say something good

or bad, he isn’t different.”

She does appreciate interaction with fans, like the two women

who get dressed up as Charlie’s Angels and sit behind the

third-base dugout. She recently met them. “I took their picture and

put it on Facebook,” Martin said.

Sitting down in those early innings, even if she’s blocked by

the crowd, she’s watching the scoreboard the whole time. She

instantly knew the Ruiz home run was out.

“I love that Liberty Bell,” Martin said of the sign in center

field that rings and moves after home runs.

Right after Ruiz hit it out, Roy Halladay singled. The crowd in

front stayed down so she saw the whole play live. She grabbed the

elbow of the person next to her.

“Oh, Roy Halladay got a hit off Lincecum,” Martin said.

“Wow.”

She was a baseball fanatic long before Manuel came into her

life. When she was growing up in Winter Haven, Fla., which was

spring-training home to the Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski was

her favorite player.

“I like the players who are real hard-nosed, gritty players,”

she said.

Lately, she’s gotten into the rally towels, she said. She’ll

wave it before a game, and again late if she’s in the stands and

the right situation arises. Along with the magazine (“I’m a

decorating fanatic”), Martin held her towel as she sat during

Saturday’s third and fourth innings. But Game 1 of the NLCS was too

tight for towels. Martin knew early on that this was not going to

be a laugher.

“I may go out to the truck,” she said.

Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or

mjensen@phillynews.com