The Matheny Manifesto by Mike Matheny

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The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life, written by St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and Jerry Jenkins, is now in bookstores everywhere.

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Hired at the age of 41 with no managerial experience, Matheny has led three St. Louis Cardinals teams to the consecutive postseasons and reached the World Series during his second year on the job. An unlikely candidate for the job, Matheny had leapfrogged over a few experienced veterans who most thought had a better chance at leading the Cardinals.

Image courtesy of Crown Archetype

The basis of The Matheny Manifesto comes from a single-spaced five-page letter that Matheny wrote in 2008 to a group of parents when the former catcher had been asked to coach a youth baseball team. This letter showed what Matheny required should he coach the team. The biggest problem in youth sports, Matheny wrote, is the parents. He outlined his views on both his and the parents’ roles if they decided to go forward with Matheny as coach. His approach would be considered old-school and he wasn’t afraid to kick somebody off the team if their parents decided to cross the line.

Matheny wanted to make the game of baseball fun for the boys while instilling a tough-love philosophy. This tough-love is a throwback to the day’s when giving someone their word was a bond, authority was to be respected, discipline and hard work were rewarded, and humility was a virtue. Matheny felt that character and life lessons needed to be taught in addition to the fundamentals of playing the game. These lessons would help the boys in the long-term whether or not they continued to play baseball.

Matheny had no hidden agenda or ulterior motives in coaching the boys. For the boys, it meant having fun and learning the game of baseball. Matheny wanted to show how parents, coaches, and the team could be able to work together in order to achieve that result. Except for those parents who crossed the line, they were mostly supportive of Matheny’s teachings.

In addition to telling how the team came together and grew slowly over time, Matheny’s book is part-memoir in that he shares childhood memories from growing up outside of Columbus as well as his time spent at the University of Michigan and into his professional career with the Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Francisco Giants.

In offering life lessons that can reach far beyond the sports world, Matheny makes sure to highlight the keys to success such as leadership, character, humility, faith, and teamwork. His advice may not be popular but it has been proven to work. His advice doesn’t just work only for children as Matheny uses the same principles even now in his role as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

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