Mike Matheny took over the reigns of the St. Louis Cardinals from Hall of Fame to be manager Tony LaRussa. This is the first time since the 1995 season that the Cardinals will have a new manager. LaRussa took over from Mike Jorgensen who took over the Cardinals in 1995 after future Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre was let go.
(editor’s note: this is a guest post from baseball author David Malamut)
Matheny was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 8th round of the 1991 draft out of the University of Michigan. He would come up through the Brewers system eventually making his major league debut April 7th, 1994 against the Oakland A’s. Who by the way were managed then by a Tony LaRussa.
In all Matheny played in Milwaukee for 5 years hitting .231 in 445 games. Things started to go very well for him after the 1999 season when he was with Toronto hitting .215 in 57 games. He was released by the Blue Jays and signed by the Cardinals as a free agent.
His career would take off after that, as he would hit .245 in 622 games with St. Louis. He was never known as a good hitter, although he was a great defensive catcher. In 2000 he would win the first of four gold glove awards. All but one of them in a Cardinal uniform. In 2003 he would go the entire season without committing an error.
In four of those five years in St. Louis he would see postseason play. Getting as far as the World Series against the Red Sox in 2004. In that series he hit .250 in 4 games, 8 at bats.
After that year he would sign as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants. In 2005 he hit .242 in 134 games with them, and won his final gold glove award. Matheny’s 2006 season was cut short as he would only play in 47 games. His final game was May 31st, he would be taken out of the game in the third inning. Later it would be revealed that it was due to a concussion. His career would be over after his doctor refused to give him medical clearance following the concussion that made him miss the final four months of the season. In the last couple of year he has come back to the Cardinals organization as a special assistant to the general manager focusing on player development. He has never coached or managed in pro baseball.
Four of the last five managers the Cardinals have had are in the Hall of Fame or will be. Red Schoendienst (80), Whitey Herzog (80-90), Joe Torre (90-95), Tony LaRussa (96-11)