Former Cardinals Coach Chris Maloney Joins Braves

photo: Chris Maloney and Yadier Molina (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images)

On Saturday morning, the Atlanta Braves announced their minor league coaching assignments for 2018. Listed as the new manager of the Double-A Mississippi Braves is a name very familiar to St. Louis Cardinals fans, Mississippi native Chris Maloney.

Chris Maloney (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The long-time manager in the Cardinals system and most recently St. Louis’ third base coach was relieved of his duties on June 9. His assignment for the remainder of 2017 was not released, as coaches’ contracts typically run through the duration of the season.

The 56-year old first managed in the Cardinals organization in 1991 at rookie-level Johnson City. In 17 seasons managing in St. Louis’ system, his teams won 1,016 games and lost 870 (.539 winning percentage). His clubs’ accomplishments include league championships with Class-A Savannah in 1993 and 2009 with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.

Personally, Maloney was highly recognized. He received Manager of the Year honors in three different leagues: the New York-Penn League while leading Hamilton to a 56-20 (.737) record in 1992, the highest winning percentage by a Cardinals minor league team; the South Atlantic League with Savannah in 1993, and the Texas League with Arkansas in 1998. Following the 1998 season, Maloney was named Baseball Weekly’s Minor League Manager of the Year.

As an instructor, Maloney received the organization’s George Kissell Award, the top honor in player development presented annually for coaching excellence. In fact, he was the first two-time honoree,  recognized by his peers in 2006 and again in 2009.

His other stops take one on a trip down Cardinals minor league memory lane: Hamilton, Arkansas, St. Petersburg and Springfield. Maloney also managed Houston’s Triple-A team in New Orleans over the 2002-2004 seasons before returning to the Cardinals organization.

After taking the reins at Double-A Springfield for the 2005-2006 seasons, “Hammer” then moved up to Memphis, where he managed from 2007-2011. That stint included the aforementioned Pacific Coast League title in 2009 and a Championship Series berth in 2010.

Maloney joined new manager Mike Matheny’s first staff in 2012 and served as first base coach through 2015 before moving to third, where his decisions came under increasing scrutiny and apparently led to him being removed from the position.

As a player at Mississippi State, Maloney was a teammate of future Cardinal Will Clark, with the latter taking over for the former at first base due to injury, drawing good-natured Wally Pipp comparisons. The switch-hitter signed as a non-drafted free agent with the New York Mets after his 1983 graduation and played four seasons of minor league ball.

A true utility man, Maloney played both corner infield positions, the outfield and even behind the plate. He finished his playing career with the 1986 Springfield (IL) Cardinals of the Class-A Midwest League.

In his new assignment, Maloney is clearly coming home. The native and still resident of Jackson will be managing the Mississippi Braves, which play in a suburb of Jackson, Pearl.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at thecardinalnation@gmail.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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