Cardinals lose important instructor Radison

One of the downsides of ex-St. Louis Cardinals organization members taking on more responsibility elsewhere is the good people they invariably pull away with them.

Such is the case currently in Washington. When the Nationals removed the “interim” tag and anointed Jim Riggleman their manager for 2010, the next step for the former Cardinals minor league field coordinator was to hand-pick his coaching staff.

As had been rumored, Cardinals minor league hitting coordinator Dan Radison received Riggleman’s call and will be taking over the Nats’ first base coaching box.

In all fairness, Radison, a highly-respected teacher, had worked with Riggleman during the latter’s previous managerial stints in San Diego and with the Cubs, including 1995-1999 in Chicago. The 59-year-old had also been employed by the Dodgers and both New York organizations in a coaching and scouting career that began in 1984.

Radison returned to the Cardinals in 2006 as Johnson City manager after having been away from the organization for 15 years. He moved into roving instructor duties in 2007 and was named coordinator the next season.

With the Cardinals, Radison was the 2007 winner of the George Kissell Award, given annually to the person across the organization who exhibits the highest level of excellence in player development. He was rewarded for his efforts by taking a September tour with the major league club in at least each of the last two seasons.

In his first tour of duty with the Cards, the St. Louis native managed at Johnson City, Hamilton and then-Double-A Springfield, Illinois from 1986 through 1989. Both his JC clubs finished in first place. Overall, Radison has a dozen years of experience as a minor league skipper with a career record of 622-552 (.530). In his playing days, Radison spent three years in the Cardinals system as a catcher after having been drafted in the 10th round in 1972 out of SIU-Carbondale.

With Radison’s departure, only one member of the Cardinals’ top seven in-uniform minor league coordinators and instructors that were in place in 2007 remains today. Decades of experience have been lost as the dean Kissell passed away, Riggleman, former minor league hitting coordinator Gene Tenace and minor league pitching coordinator Mark Riggins moved on and then-baserunning/outfield instructor Tom Spencer‘s contract was not renewed after he managed Palm Beach last season. Of the seven, only new Batavia manager Dann Bilardello, then the minor league catching coordinator, is still in the organization.

Riggleman and the Nats also retained hitting coach Rick Eckstein, the brother of the former Cardinals shortstop and the 2007 hitting coach in Triple-A Memphis.