(Busch Stadium) When the St. Louis Cardinals hired Tony La Russa as their manager before the 1996 season, he was well on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Sixteen years later, Mike Matheny was praised for his communication and leadership ability.
So what stands out most about Mike Shildt?
“He’s collaborative,” said Bill DeWitt Jr. after the press conference announcing the removal of ‘interim’ from Shildt’s title. “He works well with the coaches. He communicates well with the players, that’s his style. In today’s world, that means a lot. Twenty years ago, thirty years ago, fifty years ago it was a different model. But now, especially when young guys come and make it so fast, you need someone who can deal with them on an individual level. He’s really good at that.”
“I’m a pretty inclusive person,” Shildt shared later from the dugout. “I enjoy team. I enjoy fellowship so it’s just part of how I’ve always been. Part of my fabric. It’s really just about daily communication with the group, staff, players, everybody. That does take place individually as well, but it’s really just about sharing information.
“As much as I want them to understand my thoughts or our thoughts as a staff, I think it’s equally or more important to know what their thoughts are, the players, because they’re the ones playing the game and they’re the ones executing what we’re asking. So it’s just about making sure there’s a baseline and a clarity to be on the same page.”
And as he’s shared before, besides collaborating with the current staff, front office, and team, Shildt also reaches out to those who’ve held the job before him.
He had dinner last night and follow-up conversation today with Tony La Russa about what the team meeting would be like on moving things forward.
“I’ve always taken and stolen and listened for ideas from any and everybody who has them, I don’t claim to have any original thoughts,” smiled Shildt. “The only thing I’ll give myself credit for is being smart enough to maybe pay attention to what works and smart enough to see what maybe doesn’t.”
“I think we’ve all been around people that you ask them to do something and they get it done–that’s who Mike Shildt is,” said John Mozeliak in the press conference. “He gets things done.”
Not bad for a guy that finished his playing career on the collegiate level, was hired as an area scout, successfully presented his case to move to a uniformed role, and then rose through the managerial ranks of the organization to become the 50th manager in St. Louis Cardinals history.
“I think his accomplishments outweigh any type of negativity towards not playing the game at the highest level,” said Mozeliak. “More importantly, could you take someone with Mike’s background and just stick him in the managerial spot? Probably not. But when you factor in his career and who he’s worked with, he’s probably managed 90-95% of that clubhouse already, so you already have that respect and that relationship. So when it came down to looking at the playing background versus experience, we decided we would settle on smart and experienced over just being a player.”
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports