You had to see and hear a clubhouse full of egos consistently singing his praises, shifting much of the credit for this improbable, incredible A's season away from themselves and onto the man in the manager's office.
You had to admire the way Bob Melvin would brush off the praise, sprinkling it back among the players and members of the coaching staff.
And you have to know that Melvin's boss, celebrity general manager Billy Beane, always overshadows anything his manager does, especially if it's fabulous.
Melvin simply smiled and shrugged, saying he appreciated the opportunity, insisting the A's could not have accomplished a thing without Billy's wisdom and ingenuity and, get this, patience.
So when the American League Manager of the Year award is announced Tuesday, Oakland will have a winner -- even if the honor goes to someone else.
And yes, it will be a mild surprise if it goes to Melvin, mostly because his candidacy faces more obstacles than that of the other finalists, Baltimore's Buck Showalter and Chicago's Robin Ventura.
For one, Melvin toils for the A's, a notoriously frugal franchise whose owners are momentarily content to graze in the outback of the Major League Baseball landscape, biding their time until their ballpark oasis materializes.
For two, there is the nagging issue of East Coast bias, which actually exists and often extends to the Midwest.
For three, Melvin makes no grand proclamations,
The fourth barrier is that Melvin works for one of the marquee names in sports, a G.M. who sets the tone and temperature of all things Oakland baseball. That alone can diminish any compliments tossed toward the manager; Beane last week was named MLB's Executive of the Year.
By most subjective measures, though, no manager in baseball, including Showalter and Ventura, did a better job than Melvin. No one was even comparable.
The A's opened the season as baseball's blank face, a roster of fringe veterans and mystery rookies generally perceived to be destined to lose between 85 and 100 games -- only to shock their owners, their management and the sports world at large.
Melvin took a club that arrived at spring training owning baseball's inglorious Triple Low -- lowest payroll, lowest experience level, lowest expectations -- pushed it through the challenges of summer and, for an encore, massaged it through an absurdly successful final five weeks into the postseason.
That Oakland finished 94-68 and overtook defending A.L. champion Texas to win baseball's strongest division powerfully states the case for Melvin. That it did so with a roster built to lose and without adding a high-profile acquisition closes the argument.
Ventura has a good case, Showalter a better one. The Orioles didn't have high expectations, either. What they did have was a roster of young players projected as future All-Stars, from Adam Jones to Matt Wieters to Manny Machado to Chris Davis.
Melvin had a starting rotation rich with rookies behind pudgy, aging right-hander Bartolo Colon. He had a free-swinging right fielder, Josh Reddick, on whom Boston had given up. He had a mystery Cuban, Yoenis Cespedes, who had never batted in the big leagues. He had no third baseman, no first baseman and a promising second baseman, Jemile Weeks, who was such a profound disappointment that he'd be sent to the minors.
And yet, Melvin somehow got into the heads of his players, subtly persuading them they could and should be winners.
He was the guiding hand that nudged Oakland's bargain-basement team into a realm beyond reality. As the stakes got higher and the pressure got more intense, the A's seemed to become even more competent and certain. From July 1 through the final day, the A's had the best record in baseball.
No one was more masterful than Melvin at recognizing or reacting to the little things that help a team win baseball games, at inspiring calm and confidence.
Oakland pitching coach Curt Young extols Melvin's consistency, and veteran Coco Crisp, who began the season as a displeased left fielder before moving back to center, marvels about Melvin's communication.
Any surprise that Reddick is openly campaigning for Melvin to win this award?
Or that Jonny Gomes, who has played under previous managers of the year Dusty Baker and Joe Maddon, says Melvin should win going away?
Melvin raised the bar in Oakland and kept raising it each time he noticed his players reaching it. He did so without upstaging his G.M., without alienating even the players who were demoted, without isolating himself to fans or media.
This is tricky terrain, yet Melvin navigated it as if it were his den. That den deserves an addition to its decor.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.