ST. LOUIS -- The parade of Cardinals greats is continuous at this time of the season. Stan Musial made a surprise ride around the ballpark prior to Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, which was also preceded by an appearance from shortstop Ozzie Smith. On Friday it was Mike Shannon -- former Redbird, current commentator -- throwing out that ceremonial first pitch.
But as the carousel of franchise icons passes through this postseason, the constant presence of Red Schoendienst quietly continues.
Schoendienst, who has been involved in professional baseball for the last 70 seasons, spent 12 years managing the Cardinals, beginning in 1965. He managed the club to a World Series championship in 1967 and later served as an interim manager in 1980 and 1990. Before that, he played 15 seasons in St. Louis.
Now a special assistant to general manager John Mozeliak, Schoendienst remains an active observer. For the majority of home games this season, Schoendienst would take the field during batting practice dressed in full uniform, bat in hand. His routine has remained the same during the playoffs.
"I just stay away and watch what's going on" said the 89-year-old Schoendienst. "I have a lot of fun with what I'm doing or I wouldn't be out here. I'm glad they just let me come out. When you're around these young kids, it keeps you young. That's why I hope they'll keep letting me come around all the time. I stay out of their way."
Schoendienst will offer advice when asked but insists he's just as content to watch. Whether he realized it or not, however, first-year manager Mike Matheny spent the season absorbing from a man who has been associated with this franchise for generations.
"Every time we talk, I'm getting advice," Matheny said. "He is a sharp, sharp baseball man. And so we'll have short conversations, and he'll give me something really quick where he thinks it's just conversation in passing, but it's something I take and I put down and remember, because this guy knows what he's doing. It's incredible what jumps out to him and the things that he sees, because he's been in that chair before and knows what it takes. I treasure Red Schoendienst."