photo: Mike Shildt (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
The St. Louis Cardinals had a great 2019, yet when All-Star time came, the team had the minimum representation of one player, Paul DeJong. No Cardinals won Silver Slugger Awards, let alone the Most Valuable Player or Cy Young Award. Other than Kolten Wong’s Gold Glove Award, St. Louis was shut out of major MLB honors – with one most notable exception – the man who brought the Cardinals all together.
For the better part of 15 years, the organization knew that Mike Shildt had the potential for bigger things, and he realized one major milestone when he was named the 2019 National League Manager of the Year.
After hiring the North Carolina resident as a scout in 2004, the Cardinals continued to offer him increased challenges. Shildt moved into coaching, then led the organization’s minor league camps and progressed into a successful minor league managerial career. His teams won three league titles and he was named the 2010 George Kissell Award as the top player development individual in the organization.
The 51-year old continued to progress through assignments once he joined the major league staff in 2017. Shildt was in charge of quality control, then served as third base coach and was bench coach when manager Mike Matheny was fired in June 2018. From there, the .500 team responded under its new skipper Shildt, putting on a strong playoff push before fading in September.
In 2019, Shildt’s first year leading the team from start to finish, the Cardinals won 91 games while making substantial defensive improvements. The 2019 Cards achieved the National League Central crown and made the post-season, both for the first time since 2015.
The Cardinals are 132-99 (.571) under Shildt since he was named interim manager on July 15, 2018. Following the 2019 season, he was given a new three-year contract that extends through 2022.
Shildt, who is the first Manager of the Year to not have played professionally, is the third St. Louis top manager honoree, joining Whitey Herzog (1985) and Tony La Russa (2002). The award is voted upon by 30 selected members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, two representing each NL city.
The future remains bright, both for the Manager of the Year and his St. Louis charges.
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