Part II: Our exclusive interview with St. Louis manager Mike Matheny
By Greg Bach
It was a moment that went virtually unnoticed during last year’s National League Championship Series – but it captured the essence and incredible character of St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, author of The Matheny Manifesto.
Legendary sportscaster Bob Costas witnessed it after the Giants had defeated Matheny’s Cardinals in a Game 5 thriller to advance to the World Series.
Costas wrote the Afterword in The Matheny Manifesto, where he describes what he saw that night:
Amid the delirium at AT&T Park, following Travis Ishikawa’s dramatic home run to win the pennant for the Giants, and end the Cardinals’ season – a smaller, barely noted scene stood out for me. As his disappointed players trudged toward their clubhouse, Mike Matheny waited at the dugout railing. Waited until he could make eye contact with Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Then, in a brief and understated moment, he lifted his cap and nodded toward his victorious counterpart. A small gesture perhaps, but one that tells you a lot about Mike Matheny. You win, or in this case lose, with class. With integrity. You play hard. You play smart. You respect yourself, your teammates, your opponents and your craft. It’s a game and it should be fun.
Matheny, the fourth-year manager of the Cardinals, sat down with the National Alliance for Youth Sports for an exclusive interview sharing his ideas, insights and advice for working with children in sports.
This is Part Two of that conversation, and if you missed Part One last week click HERE. And if you’d like a chance to win an autographed copy of Matheny’s New York Times bestseller simply post your favorite youth sports memory in the comment section below the story.
NAYS: How did you approach this book and explaining your thoughts?
MATHENY: I think one of the big things that people need to understand is these aren’t just my opinions. I went through and talked to coaches, I went through and talked to current players and said, “Tell me what your parents did at the games.” And it was amazing to me that their experiences were very similar to what mine were and that was a silent source of support. They didn’t have the craziness and somehow – call it irony, I don’t know – a lot of those kids that had parents like that they got burned out, maxed out and decided to get out and it was a pretty consistent theme throughout that clubhouse.
NAYS: When you were coaching your youth baseball team what was your goal?
MATHENY: For us it was trying to get these kids to have so much fun that they didn’t want to stop the season – that was our goal. So part of that was we would throw a left-handed kid over at shortstop and just let him play there because he always wanted to know what playing shortstop was and we made sure everybody got to pitch as long as we made sure nobody was going to get hurt. We wanted to expose them to the entire game and put them in some spots they hadn’t been before.
NAYS: What do you remember about your youth sports experiences?
MATHENY: I think my parents did it right. It was about going out, bubble gum during the game and ice cream after. Nobody cared if we won or lost; it was about having a great time and a unique experience and I couldn’t wait for the next baseball season. And then they encouraged us to just play sports – and not just baseball. We were playing basketball and then baseball and then it went into football. It was just kind of a cycle; they never did just force one sport on me. They never gave me that pressure that I had to achieve or be anything. It was about what I wanted. I thought that was extremely important and I had coaches then who knew how to teach the game and then when I started wanting to be pushed my parents responded the best they could.
Remember - post your favorite youth sports memory in the comment section below for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Matheny Manifesto!
Jamie Clarke has climbed the tallest mountain on every continent and worked with elite athletes on the mental side of the game. Use his insights to elevate your leadership skills and take your young athletes on a journey they'll never forget
3-time Olympian Allison Baver overcame gruesome injuries throughout her career to excel on the world stage. Use her insight to help young athletes overcome fears lurking in their minds
Team USA’s Kendall Coyne cherished her childhood where her parents didn’t pressure and push. The result? Her love for hockey flourished, and is as strong as ever these days
Curt Tomasevicz, Olympic champion in the four-man bobsled and former football player at Nebraska, on helping young athletes conquer fears, stay focused, and perform at their best when the pressure rises