September was a whirlwind month for Mike Shildt. The Springfield Cardinals manager led his club to the team’s first-ever Texas League championship, first dispatching the Tulsa Drillers, then the Frisco RoughRiders in the post-season.
It was the third title in the last three years for the clubs managed by the 43-year-old. Shildt’s Johnson City Cardinals won back-to-back Appalachian League crowns in 2010 and 2011. Those clubs tied and set regular-season win records and brought home the first titles to the Tennessee town since 1976.
Shildt has earned our selection as The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Manager of the Year for 2012.
Managing for the first time at the Double-A level did not begin well for Shildt, however. He suffered through two ejections, one leading to a brief suspension after his thrown helmet inadvertently struck an umpire. Worse, his club stumbled through a 10-game losing skid in April, longest in team history.
Shildt, his coaches and his players did not panic. They pulled to within one game of the lead in early June before finishing the first half five games back. The club really came together in the second half, leading from wire to wire. Springfield finished with the top overall record in the Texas League North, entering the playoffs as the second-half division winner.
Despite both Tulsa and Frisco deploying rehabbing major league stars in Troy Tulowitzki and Mike Napoli, respectively, the Cardinals prevailed in the semi-finals and finals.
Success does not occur without talent, with which Springfield was blessed in 2012. Between the mid-season and post-season teams, the Cardinals had 11 selections as Texas League All-Stars. Two-time choices were Trevor Rosenthal, Kolten Wong, Keith Butler and Oscar Taveras, with the latter being the league’s Most Valuable Player. Other all-stars were Jermaine Curtis, Audry Perez and Seth Maness.
As his September travels continued, Shildt and Springfield vice president Matt Gifford brought the Texas League championship trophy to Busch Stadium, where they were recognized by a full house. Shildt then joined John Mozeliak in the general manager’s box for the evening’s game.
Instead of heading home to North Carolina from St. Louis, the former scout, collegiate coach and training academy owner, returned to his roots – teaching. Shildt caught a flight to Florida, where he joined coaches working in instructional league camp with a group of hand-selected players.
Shildt seemed more at home surrounded by a handful of Cardinals youngsters in the early-morning mist on a back field at the organization’s complex in Jupiter, Fla. than in front of a sell-out crowd in St. Louis.
Before moving up to the Double-A Cardinals, Shildt had served as minor league spring training and extended spring training coordinator, a role now handled by minor league field coordinator Mark DeJohn. Yet, teaching remains a key element of Shildt’s baseball DNA.
That combination of player development drive and winning results led to Shildt being named the 2010 winner of the George Kissell Award, as voted upon by his peers among the Cardinals minor league field staff.
Now, Shildt adds a second The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Manager of the Year Award to his many accomplishments, as well.
Bonus for The Cardinal Nation subscribers: Shildt recently sat down for a detailed review of Springfield’s 2012 championship season. The exclusive audio follows.
Listen to Audio (12:55)
Previous winners of The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Manager of the Year Award
2011: Johnny Rodriguez, Quad Cities
2010: Mike Shildt, Johnson City
2009: Chris Maloney, Memphis
2008: Mark DeJohn, Batavia
2007: Ron “Pop” Warner, Springfield
Note: Link to article with links to all articles about previous award winners across the system club by club, schedule for upcoming announcements as well as 2012 team recaps, much of it exclusively for The Cardinal Nation subscribers.
Not yet a subscriber? Join now!
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.
© 2012 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.