Mike Shildt was never a star for the UNC Asheville baseball team when he played for the Bulldogs from 1987-90.
He was a part-time player, always hustled, loved the game.
And he has parlayed that passion into the pinnacle of his profession.
Shildt, a bench coach for the St, Louis Cardinals, was promoted to manager this weekend after the team fired Mike Matheny.
Shildt, who also coached at Asheville for the 1992-93 seasons, has been in the Cardinals’ organization since 2004.
He managed in the minor leagues for eight seasons, compiling a 471-432 record. He won a Triple A championship in 2012 with Springfield (Ill.).
He won his debut on Sunday, a 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, which snapped a six-game losing streak at home.
And the players made sure he remembered his first win as a big-league manager. They threw him into a laundry basket, spun the basket around until Shildt was dizzy and hyperventilating and doused him with cold water.
“I’m still not believing this to some degree,” Shildt said. “But it’s a real moment. I just got through managing a game for the St, Louis Cardinals.
Several members of the team played for Shildt when he managed the Cardinals’ Triple A team in Springfield from 2012-14.
And one former teammate from his Asheville days is not surprised wherehis old buddy ended up.
“While a lot us just played baseball, he was really intense about learning the game, always asking questions,” said Terry Gahagan.
“He was like a baseball savant, and all the knowledge he and experience he has acquired has helped him get to where he is today.”
Shildt was named interim manager for the rest of the season.
Matheny was 591-474 in six-plus years with the Cardinals. A former catcher with St. Louis, Matheny led the team to the playoffs each of his first four seasons as manager, but the franchise has missed postseason play the past two years.
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