Emotional Shildt looks back on tenure with Cardinals

April 2nd, 2024

SAN DIEGO -- A member of the Cardinals for 18 years of his baseball life, Mike Shildt so revered the iconic jersey that prominently features the birds on the bat across the chest that he always reserved a special space in his dressing stall for it to hang.

Understandably, it was emotional for Shildt when he was no longer a member of the Cardinals and it meant he would no longer be wearing the uniform he had so much respect and admiration for. As it turns out, addressing the topic of his love for the Cardinals also made Shildt somewhat emotional on Monday before his Padres took on St. Louis for the first time this season on Monday.

“I was fortunate and blessed to be in that organization and they gave me the opportunity [to manage] and I always wanted to be respectful of how I carried myself on the field and away from the field,” said Shildt, who was 252-199 with three playoff appearances in four seasons as the Cardinals manager from 2018-21. “That [Cardinals] jersey is pretty special, so anytime that I put it away, it always hung in a certain spot.

“But I do the same thing with the Padres jersey because I have a lot of respect for this organization. I treat [the San Diego] jersey with the same respect that I did over there.”

In his first season as the manager of the Padres, Shildt faced former San Diego manager Bob Melvin in the club’s home-Opening Series against the Giants. Now, he’s matching wits with Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, the former middle infield prospect he scouted and helped the Cardinals sign in 2007 out of the College of Charleston. When Marmol moved over to the Minor League coaching staff in 2011, Shildt worked closely with Marmol to help his transition and ascension up the coaching ranks.

“I was an area scout [for the Cardinals] in 2006 and we drafted [Marmol] out of the College of Charleston and I thought this guy’s a plus runner, throws the ball well and he’s an aggressive player and I thought he’d be a good player for the big leagues,” Shildt said. “But right when he started coaching and managing, I wanted to do whatever I could for him that was done for me by Mark De John and other people in the Cardinals organization who grew me and gave me opportunities to learn. Every opportunity I had in his career to sit him beside me and give him any wisdom and knowledge I could give him, I did. How much it helped him, who knows?”

Marmol became the Cardinals’ first base coach in 2017 and was elevated to bench coach in 2019 when Shildt took over full time as the Cardinals manager. During that 2019 season under Shildt’s guidance, the Cardinals won the NL Central and reached the NLCS before being swept by the eventual champion Nationals.

As it turns out, Shildt’s victory over the Braves in 2019 to get to the NLCS is the Cardinals’ last postseason series win in the past four years. After the Cardinals won 90 games in 2021 and lost to the Dodgers in a one-game Wild Card round, the organization chose to not retain Shildt and instead promoted Marmol to the top step.

Shildt and Marmol spent time talking last year when the Cardinals were in San Diego, and they met on Monday morning prior to getting to the ballpark for the start of the series. Marmol said he will be forever grateful for all that Shildt did to aid his coaching career.

“We spent a decent part of my Minor League experience together and then all of my time in the big leagues, we sat side by side together,” Marmol said. “I’d narrow [what he learned from Shildt] down to preparation and just having an actual framework for how you prepare, the order you do it and why you do it -- it’s definitely an area that he does a really good job with and I instilled that in my day to day.”