Acta has fond memories of Minors win

Acta has fond memories of Minors win

MIAMI -- The Potomac Nationals winning it all on Friday night brought up some fond memories for the current manager of the big club.

One day after the Nationals' Class A affiliate beat the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to claim the Carolina League title and hoist the Mills Cup, Acta was thinking back to 1999, when he did the very same thing.

"It was the first time I had won, and I couldn't talk," Acta said. "Words couldn't come out, champagne was flying all over the place, and a lot of those kids had played for me for like three years at different levels."

Acta was in his seventh year as skipper at the Minor League level and was managing the Class A Kissimmee Cobras, affiliated with the Astros. The team they beat, the Dunedin Blue Jays, was stacked. That year, they had Michael Young, Cesar Izturis, Josh Phelps and Ryan Freel -- all of whom have had success in the big leagues -- in the same dangerous lineup.

"We were the underdog," said Acta, who got a championship ring out of it, but leaves it at home because it's too big. "We played a team that was pretty superior to everyone else, but that just goes to show you that in a short series, you never know."

Now, here's a little bit of irony: The losing manager in that series, Rocket Wheeler, was the same guy who was heading the Pelicans in Saturday's game.

"It's a big coincidence," Acta said.

The Nationals' manager is still able to recall almost every detail of that championship season. He even remembers the song they used to sing every time they'd get on the bus after a victory.

"How much is that dog in the window?" the bus driver would sing.

"Woof, Woof!" the players would answer.

"It made us not want to win sometimes," Acta joked.

And he also remembers not being able to enjoy that championship very much.

"It was just about this time of year, and a huge hurricane was coming over, and we couldn't celebrate that night," Acta said. "Everybody had to get out of Florida, and we couldn't enjoy it."

Although the celebration was short, it still hasn't left Acta's memory. He feels the same amount of pride seeing a team in the farm system accomplish the very same thing.

"It means a lot," Acta said. "It's always fun when you have at least one of your Minor League teams win a championship because they have that experience. A lot of people play 20 years sometimes, and they don't get to experience it."

Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.