How Marlins trio was impacted by time in St. Louis

July 20th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Christina De Nicola’s Marlins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

This week's series in St. Louis was a baseball homecoming for Marlins coaches Skip Schumaker, John Mabry and Jon Jay.

That trio was selected by the Cardinals in the MLB Draft. Each player made his Major League debut with the organization, and both Schumaker and Jay were members of the 2011 World Series championship club. Schumaker served as the bench coach for first-year manager Oliver Marmol in '22, while Mabry was an analyst for Cardinals games in '11, then a hitting coach during Mike Matheny's tenure.

"I think that was a little bit weirder, especially when I was a Cub," first-time coach Jay said of returning as the opposition. "A lot of good memories here, a lot of playoff games. A lot of fun."

Though this wasn't the first time Schumaker came back to Busch Stadium as an opposing team's coach, having done so with the Padres, spending time in the visiting clubhouse and dugout will always feel different. The first-year skipper credits his experience with the Cardinals for giving him the opportunity to become an MLB manager.

Schumaker still keeps in touch with Marmol a couple of times a week. Schumaker learned a lot from him, in particular his game preparation and relationship building.

"It doesn't get lost on me that the reason why I'm here is a lot of what they did for me," Schumaker said. "They bet on me, and that never gets lost. It is strange being on this side. It's always going to be, spending so much time over there.

"You learn from everywhere you've been, and then you try to make it your own. I've had a lot of rookie managers that I sat next to either playing for or being next to as a coach. I will say that I've learned the most from Oli in that group. A lot of the stuff that we try to implement here is what the Cardinals have done and what I've learned from them. Obviously, I have a lot of coaches that have been in different organizations, and so we try to implement a lot of stuff that they've done as well, and then try to make it our own."

The downtown St. Louis ballpark means a lot to Jay, who played six of his 12 MLB seasons for the Cardinals. He made his debut at Busch Stadium on April 26, 2010, and reached the pinnacle of the sport a year later in the Fall Classic.

"I remember when I got signed, I didn't know much about the history of the game, really," Jay said. "Spring Training was awesome getting to know Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, all these Hall of Famers. I remember going home and Googling them and just doing my research on them and having friendships with them. Just learning the history of baseball. You look at the banners, championships since the 1930s, '40s, and so on. It was really cool."

"My kids grew up here," Schumaker said. "My son's here right now. He's 15. He was running around with the Holliday kids, [Adam] Wainwright's kids. I think more than anything of like special places to go or to see it's just like seeing the people that meant a lot to me growing up and becoming a man and a husband and a father. This place molded me into kind of who I am today."