The late St. Louis Cardinals coach George Kissell would have turned 100 years old today. His teachings are still used today.
From 1946 until his death in 2008, George Kissell was a coaching mainstay in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Former Redbird managers Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre, and Tony La Russa credit Mr. Kissell with being the best baseball teacher they’ve ever worked with.
When we think about “the Cardinal Way,” what do we think of?
- Good fundamentals
- Routine plays
- Clean defense
All of these traits came from numerous coaches and managers in baseball. However, no one taught them better in the Cardinals organization better than George Kissell. From the Society of American Baseball Research:
"The Cardinals under Branch Rickey created the modern farm system. Kissell tilled more acres than any other man for nearly seven decades, spending most of those years in the bus leagues of the low minors. “He looks after details,” Rickey said. “He is a ‘cleaner-upper.’ First man out, last man in.”"
As an instructor over the years, Kissell would write down his ideas for baseball fundamentals in a small notebook. Over time, those ideas became “the Cardinal Way.” His son, Dr. Dick Kissell printed these notes into a small leather-bound book and gave them to Cardinals minor league instructors. To this day, Mike Shildt has been on record to use it when he climbed through the organization himself.
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In an effort to showcase his skills to the Cardinals in 1940, the 5 foot 8 Kissell tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals at their camp in Rochester, New York. He made the team, but he was assigned to the Class D team in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. He would later make the Mobile team before leaving to serve our country in the Second World War.
Upon returning, at 25, he was offered a chance to coach and accepted the position.
His baseball expertise and teaching may have originated with the Cardinals, but they did not just stay there. Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson credited Mr. Kissell on how they manage their ball clubs.
So to Mr. Kissell in heaven, have a Happy 100th birthday!!