St. Louis Cardinals: Look back at what once was, coaching edition
The St. Louis Cardinals coaching staff were all one-time players. While they may suffer as coaches, were they successful as players?
The St. Louis Cardinals will be researching their current players in an effort to look ahead to 2018. Likewise, we at Redbird Rants are looking ahead to 2018 one player at a time thanks to Josh McDonald. Be sure to follow his pieces for a look at what might be coming in 2018.
To compliment the greatness that Josh is creating for us, I will be taking us through a look back. Not at the players but rather at the coaching staff.
I have not been too kind to this MLB coaching staff over the 2017 campaign. I admit that. In spite of my ire, it may serve us all well to see whether these leaders of men were great followers in their day; were they successful players or did they suffer as the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals did?
First up, Mike Shildt. Shildt has an impressive and interesting past. While other MLB coaches carry with them statistical numbers to justify their positions, Shildt carries paid dues and hard work. Most MLB coaching staffs carry with them stats that are easy to locate. Not Shildt.
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That said, Shildt brings a very interesting back story. Having entered baseball at the young age of 13 thanks to his mother’s employment with the Charlotte minor-league affiliate for the Orioles. At 13, Shildt was the scoreboard operator and even had the privilege of shining the shoes of Cal Ripken.
What other MLB coach can claim such a past?
At college age, Shildt was a walk-on at UNC-Ashville. He was an unremarkable utility infielder. According to a February 2015 article in the Daily News of Memphis, TN, Shildt recognized his limitations early:
"…his team went to play at the University of Tennessee and Shildt, a utility infielder, got an at-bat against a pitcher throwing in the low 90s. He kept fouling the ball into the dugout because he couldn’t catch up… On the bus ride home he told a teammate, “This is as far as I’m ever going to play.”"
When pro baseball was not in his future, Shildt moved into coaching. Having risen from shoe-shiner to scoreboard operator to unsuccessful player and yet still deeply desiring a future in baseball, Shildt moved to natural roles in coaching. He started in college ball where he coached for five years before running a baseball academy and serving as an associate scout.
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His past led him directly to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004 when he joined the organization as a scout and player development instructor. Five years later, Mike was promoted to manager of the minor league team in Johnson City. Shildt employed the skills he learned as a college coach to lead the team to back-to-back championships.
The St. Louis Cardinals recognized success and promoted Shildt immediately to AA and inserted him into the manager role there. A short while later in 2015, Shildt found himself boarding a plane to Memphis and taking over as the manager for the Redbirds where he sat until 2017 and his services were required in St. Louis.
Under Mike Matheny, and appointed by then-GM John Mozeliak, Shildt served the 2017 season as the created-position Quality Control Coach and then third base coach.
With 2018 on the horizon, and with the news that all other coaches in Matheny’s team save that of Derek Lilliquist and Blake Ilsley will return, it can be assumed that Shildt will return as the St. Louis Cardinals third base coach but that is yet to be determined.
Next: Reaction to the end-of-season press event
What’s next? Come back tomorrow as I take a look at another of the St. Louis Cardinals coaching staff. Thanks for reading and go Cardinals!