Bristol’s Own “Mantle”, Jeffrey Manto
by Cate Murway
“Don’t look back unless you plan to go that way.” Jeff Manto, yearbook quote
Big talent came from a small town. Let’s start from “in the big INNING..."
Jeffrey Paul Manto, BHS ‘82/Temple University is the likable local star of a sentimental "dream fulfillment" tale set in historic Bristol on the Delaware.
A typical kid, he spent his days from August to November playing football, then during the winter, basketball [the sport to play at St. Ann] and finally, in the spring, time for baseball. He played on the DeFazio Plumbing, Reedman Pontiac and Gallagher Tires teams.
As a young boy, he walked confidently to the mound, grinned at the batter, stretched into a graceful wind up, and delivered near perfect pitches. He dreamed of becoming something great. He faced up to huge challenges and he conquered them. The New York Yankees drafted Jeff in the 35th round of the 1982 Major League Baseball Draft.
Three years after opting not to sign with the Yankees and a full scholarship to Temple University, he was drafted by the California Angels and signed on June 7, 1985. He was a member of the 1993 National League champion Phillies, and was also part of the Indians 1997 AL pennant drive. He was honored by having his uniform number retired by the Buffalo Bisons. His number 30 can be seen painted on the left field fence of the Bisons' Coca Cola Park. He is only the third Bisons player to ever have his number retired in 116 years of professional baseball in that city.
From 1985-2000, he played 162 games a year.
Jeff has also been the hitting coach and manager for the Phillies in Lakewood NJ and from 2004-2006, he was the hitting coordinator for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Jeff was quoted as saying, "I came to the field with no baggage. I came to play baseball. I didn't come to complain. I just enjoyed everything about the game, and I think people were looking for that. I had to work for everything I got in baseball, and people could relate to me because of that.”
When it comes to contributions to baseball, besides being one of the most prolific power hitters in minor league history, Jeff offered something more valuable than a home run record. He gave his heart and soul - rare commodities in a game losing both.
He embodies his convictions, and it’s time to give back.
“… Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.”
His parents, the late former Mayor Michael Manto, a Bristol policeman, District Magistrate and judge and Third Avenue resident Antoinette “Toni” [Yancavage] Manto met at a dance, listening to the Dovells, solidifying their own “Bristol Stomp”.
Jeff is the 3rd of their 4 children. Robert is a Rohm and Haas chemist. Keith and Michelle are deceased. They all played sports.
He played community recreation baseball. There was no travel baseball but young Jeff was selected to play on All-Star teams as he grew older. He played on the Bristol Memorial/Mike Manto Little League Field, named after his father who grew up playing baseball and softball in Trenton, NJ.
During the early ‘50’s, assisted by the late Ernest [Ernie] A. Pinelli, a past President of the Bristol Borough Little League, Mike Manto, Joe Tunis, Sr. and Junior Field founded the Borough’s Little League.
Jeff loved growing up in the time he did… everybody played!
He swam at the 5th Ward Pool on Wood Street and recalls
“Friday night spaghetti dinners were so great!”
When the “Streetlights went on, you went in the house.”
He was taught to “do your best and work hard”.
“This above all: to thy own self be true.” Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
And work hard he did, in school and in athletics.
He dominated in three sports and his exploits as a Warrior are legendary.
“You have to take it serious. It does matter. It’s not OK to go through the motions.”
He used almost reverential tones to reel off recollections of those besides his parents
who inspired him. “The coaches meant the world to me and I had the influence at home,
a solid upbringing. I trusted them. As much as I appreciated my parents,
I appreciate these two men in my life.”
“Jim Sottile was probably the biggest influence in my career, after my career.
I could never understand why he was so demanding of me.
I never understood it. In hindsight, he was probably the most influential person in my life.”
“Sottile said ‘if you get knocked down, get back up on your feet again’.”
BHS class of 1988 Hall of Fame, James Marvin “Jim” Sottile, Sr., BHS ’49 offers mutual praise for Jeff.
“One of the finest players I ever had the pleasure of coaching. He was determined and wanted to win very badly. Like another coach on the floor. Was a hustler and never quit. Wish I had 5 like him.”
Jeff’s favorite poem is Robert Frost ‘s “The Road Not Taken” (1915), interpreted as an assertion of individualism.
“Joe Fran told me to specifically concentrate on ‘The Road Not Taken’.
I had enough guts to take the chance and leave home.”
“Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.”
English teacher, Joseph Franceschini, BHS ’50 complimented Jeff. “He reminded me of the one who took the road. He was always dependable, cordial and friendly and I admired his work ethic. Jeff was a hard working scholar-athlete. He dared to be adventurous.”
Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), wrote of the resolute and heroic, Ulysses, admired for his determination "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield".
This too is Jeff Manto.
Jeff and his wife, Denise Louise [Sabol], whom he met when they were teaching at Snyder-Girotti, first lived in Bristol and then moved to Langhorne. They returned to the Borough and have lived on Radcliffe Street for the last 10 years. Their three children are without a doubt athletically inclined.
Gabrielle, NA ‘12 plays field hockey and lacrosse. Per her proud papa, “ She works her butt off. She works out 3 times a week.” Andreana Michele  is involved in tap & pointe dance at Carol Willson Studio One located on Floor "3N" in the Grundy Commons, plays softball and tennis. She performed “Ma Jeunesse”, “Now the Green Blade Rises” and the French National Anthem, “La Marseillaise” on the Baby grand piano at the WCU Harpfest.
Jeffrey  loves ball sports, “anything that rolls… he likes the balls”.
Bristol is the perfect location choice in which to raise their children.
But what’s the change in Bristol since Jeff grew up here?
He feels that the children are competing facelessly.
“I don’t see the urgency, the desire to get better in the things they do. They are softer.
It does matter that you win. It’s not the Montessori way of life.”
“We have 9 churches. We can walk to Washington and Florida because of the trains. We have beautiful ball fields and gymnasiums and we don’t use them. The priority has gotten off the kids. The town looks great. It’s time for the kids. Let’s concentrate on the kids.”
Jeff shared his birthday with the late Gene Kelly [1912-1996] who saw no reason why song and dance shouldn't reflect the realities of everyday life. He was known for his white socks and loafers.
Jeff is preparing for his second year as the minor league hitting coordinator for the White Sox with no loafers and he feels sports reflect the realities of everyday life.
“Sports parallel life. We learn through competition. Did you work hard enough to win?”
Second place doesn’t get you the job or the interview.
He is a catalyst for change, a source of inspiration.
Jeff’s next project is to start a Boys and Girls Club- to give back. “A great opportunity to help the kids. I still want to come back and humbly give to the kids.”
He is advocating after school help in all the subjects, tutoring, counseling, and an opportunity, of course, to play sports. He wants to help the parents to help their kids.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Recommend a “Spotlight”. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Antoinette 'Toni' Manto of Bristol Borough passed away suddenly Friday, April 29, 2011. She was 76.
Born and raised in Minersville, Pa., she had been a resident of Bristol Borough for more than 50 years.
Toni was a longtime volunteer of Lower Bucks Hospital. She was a member of the Bucks County Senior Center and a devout parishioner and volunteer of St. Ann Church in Bristol Borough.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband, the Honorable Michael J. Manto, and a son, Keith, and daughter, Michele.
Mrs. Manto is survived by two sons, Robert Manto and his wife, Carol, of Fairless Hills, and Jeff Manto and his wife, Denise, of Bristol. She also is survived by her grandchildren, Michael, Gabrielle, Kristen, Andreana, and Jeffrey; her sisters, Kathryn Parkinson of Nicholson, Pa., and Carol Kauffman of Kentucky; and many nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends are invited to call from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, and from 8 to 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, at Galzerano Funeral Home, 3500 Bristol-Oxford Valley Road in Levittown. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. at St. Ann Church. Interment will follow in Forest Hills Cemetery.
The family requests donations in her name be made to St. Ann Church, 357 Dorrance Street, Bristol, PA 19007. Galzerano Funeral Home, Levittown.
Jeff Manto Bristol Borough's Person of the Year
By Steve Sherman
Seems like over the course of the last year, former Major League infielder Jeff Manto spent a lot of his time assisting the Bristol Borough 21st Century Community Learning Center.
To show its appreciation, the Center honored Manto as its Person of the Year Nov. 19 at Lennox China & Giftware's corporate headquarters at Island View Crossing, in the 1400 block of Radcliffe Street.
The event was dubbed the Fall Classic and served as a fundraiser for the Center. More than 270 were in attendance on a night that saw $15,000 raised for after-school programs that benefit the borough’s youth.
“They recognized Jeff for the enormous contribution that he’s made to the Center,” said Melissa Christie, United Way Project Director for the Center.
“He brings in incredible talent from all areas and has people who are amazing – at the top of their field – to work with our students.”
There were many who spoke in honor of Manto that night. Two were from the Phillies ball club – Manager Charlie Manuel and General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Manuel and Amaro submitted their presentations via video.
In addition to everything else he's done for the Center, Manto, a member of the Advisory and Oversight Committee, helped to instruct kids attending the group's annual baseball & softball camp held late last summer at Bristol Memorial ballfields on Jefferson Street.
“I try to give back as best I can,” said Manto on the last day of the camp that included everything from basketball to disc golf. “I had a lot of support from the community so I’m just trying to return what was given to me and what was offered to me.”
The free sports camps kicked off Aug. 8 with football drills in the morning with Coach Nick Nastasi and Dr. Piccariello and golf instruction with PGA professional Bob Kleckner in the afternoon. Week two saw new Bristol High boys basketball coach Frank Sciolla hit the hardwood in the morning. In the afternoon, the kids were treated to strength & conditioning drills with coach Pat Mulhern at PT Transformations on Mill Street.
“He really makes sure that the kids get access to all different athletes, all different sports and all different coaches. One day, they’re doing lacrosse, the next, they’re doing martial arts.”
“He’s committed to giving the kids the best sports they can get through the Center.”
Manto wrapped up three weeks of sports and exercise with his baseball camp. He along with varsity baseball coach Tony Mangiaracina and Seton Hall infielder Kirby Groves instructed the campers personally.
Bristol's favorite baseball son, Manto was recently hired by the Chicago White Sox to be their next hitting instructor. Jeff has his work cut out for him. The Sox ranked 11th in the American League in runs scored (4 runs per game) and eighth in batting average (.252).
Manto was Chicago's minor league hitting coordinator for the last three years. Before that, he was a batting instructor with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Now, Jeff's job is to get the White Sox to the Fall Classic. With the people of Bristol Borough behind him and hopefully, a little luck, Jeff will get Chicago to the promised land.
Funded by a federal grant administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Center provides educational enrichment and support programs aimed at improving academic achievement and decreasing factors that place 6th- through 12-grade borough students at risk for behavior problems.
The United Way of Bucks County administers the grant in conjunction with the Bristol Borough School District.
Activities vary from cultural enrichment, recreation and exercise, instruction in the arts, and service learning opportunities. Many of the activities, which include tutoring and homework help, take place at the St. James Parish House on Walnut Street in Bristol Borough.
Additional programs offered by the center include yoga, cooking, careers and music instruction.
NOTES: Drafted in 1985 by the California Angels, Manto began his Major League career in 1990 in Cleveland and spent parts of nine seasons in the big leagues. His best year came in 1995 in Baltimore, where he hit 17 home runs for the Orioles, four of which came in consecutive at bats