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Oakland Athletics interim manager Bob Melvin before the start of the San Francisco Giants game on Friday, June 17, 2011 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif.

Bob Melvin's hiring as the A's full-time manager became official Wednesday.

In reality, it was a move cemented over the past three months, after Melvin began an interim managing stint that felt more permanent with each passing game.

Melvin received a three-year contract that takes him through the 2014 season. As he sat alongside A's general manager Billy Beane at an afternoon news conference, it was tough to tell who was happier.

Melvin, a Palo Alto native who played for Cal and later the Giants, is thrilled to get an extended crack to lead the A's. Beane is content handing his team to someone for whom he's gained increasing respect since June 9, when he brought in Melvin to replace the fired Bob Geren.

"A three-year deal means it's three years in contract, yet nothing's promised to you the next day," Melvin said before the A's 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. "This is going to make me work even harder and be more committed to a situation that, already to me, is the perfect situation."

More apparent than anything Wednesday was how much Melvin and Beane have enjoyed working together.

"I talk to him more times in a day than I talk to my wife," Beane joked. "It's a real stimulating relationship. I've been really amazed at how seamless that not only our professional relationship, but our personal relationship, has grown."

In locking up Melvin, Beane passed on a chance to pursue any managers who might become available after the season -- the Chicago White Sox's Ozzie Guillen and Chicago Cubs' Mike Quade are two possibilities if they're dismissed from their current jobs.

Beane was vague on whether the A's interviewed a minority candidate to satisfy Major League Baseball requirements, stressing that he communicated with the commissioner's office for about a month to make sure the A's were meeting MLB standards. Two MLB officials didn't respond to emails seeking comment.

"We went through the checks and balances from start to finish and said this is what we'd like to secure, to have Bob as our manager," Beane said.

Handing Melvin a three-year contract shows considerable faith, but it's not an unprecedented move from Beane. Ken Macha was given a three-year contract when he was promoted from bench coach to replace Art Howe before the 2003 season.

Macha signed another three-year deal in 2006 but was fired after that season with two years left on the contract.

Beane said familiarizing himself with Melvin since June gave him the confidence to offer a three-year deal.

All signs pointed toward Melvin, 49, being retained full time despite his 42-50 record since replacing Geren. Melvin has earned praise from players for his communication skills and positive attitude.

"I think the attitude change in the clubhouse since he's been here has been great," A's closer Andrew Bailey said. "I think he can really implement his strategy with a full offseason and spring training going into next year."

Melvin has a career mark of 535-557 as a big league manager, serving two seasons with Seattle (2003-04) and four-plus with Arizona (2005-09).

A key is whether his reputation as a "player's manager" can help the A's retain some of their own free agents or possibly lure those from other teams.

Left fielder Josh Willingham, with a team-high 27 homers and 92 RBIs, is the A's most prominent free agent-to-be.

Melvin's hiring "doesn't hurt, that's for sure," Willingham said in discussing his upcoming decision. "I really like Bob, and I like what he's done. ... (But) I have no idea what's going to happen this offseason."