Mike Matheny

Last updated
Mike Matheny
Matheny with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013
Kansas City Royals – No. 22
Catcher / Manager
Born: (1970-09-22) September 22, 1970 (age 50)
Columbus, Ohio
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
April 7, 1994, for the Milwaukee Brewers
Last MLB appearance
May 31, 2006, for the San Francisco Giants
MLB statistics
Batting average .239
Home runs 67
Runs batted in 443
Managerial record643-534
Winning %.546
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Michael Scott Matheny (born September 22, 1970) is an American former professional baseball player and current manager of the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball (MLB). [1] He played in MLB for 13 seasons as a catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Francisco Giants. Matheny later spent seven seasons as the manager of the Cardinals. One of the most accomplished defensive players of his era, he won four Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. [2] [3] As manager, Matheny's teams won one National League (NL) pennant and three NL Central division titles.


From Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Matheny was selected by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 1991 MLB draft from the University of Michigan (UM). He made his MLB debut as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers on April 7, 1994. Matheny established major league records among catchers for consecutive games played without committing an error (252), and consecutive chances fielded without an error (1,565). He is one of three catchers in major league history with an errorless season of at least 100 games, [4] and in 2005, set a Giants single-season team record for catcher's fielding percentage at .999. Matheny has made two World Series appearances—both with the Cardinals—one as a player (2004), and one as a manager (2013). He retired from playing in 2006 due to persisting symptoms of concussion, and has since become an advocate for its prevention and for improved catcher safety.

After his playing career, Matheny coached Little League Baseball. The Cardinals hired him to manage after the 2011 season although he had no professional coaching or managerial experience. In 2012, the Cardinals were wild card winners, and from 2013–15, claimed three consecutive NL Central titles, including winning a career-best 100 games for Matheny in 2015. He became the first manager in MLB history to lead his team to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons, and the fifth to a League Championship Series appearance in each of his first three. In 2018, he became the fourth Cardinals manager to manage the club in 1,000 games.

Early life and amateur career

Matheny grew up in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. He graduated from Reynoldsburg High School, where he captained the baseball and football teams. [5] He received little attention from nearby Ohio State University, but accepted a scholarship offered by University of Michigan coach Bud Middaugh. [6] At Michigan, Matheny co-captained the Wolverines baseball team. [7] [8]

Matheny's defensive and throwing skills had drawn the notice of major league scouts, and the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him in the 31st round of the 1988 Major League Baseball Draft. They waited two days until after the draft ended to tell him of his selection, and initially refused to disclose which round they had selected him in. [6] Two days before he was due to attend his first class at Michigan, Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick appeared at Matheny's home to convince him to sign. Gillick was ready to offer a deal normally reserved for second-round picks. At the time, teams held the right to negotiate with their draft picks until the moment they entered their first classroom in the following academic year. The Blue Jays called Matheny frequently until the morning of his first class, hoping he would sign. [6] However, Matheny was convinced that he would not be a very good professional player at that point, so he chose to attend college instead. Before proceeding to his first class, he called the Blue Jays from his dormitory room to inform them of his decision.

Matheny was a member of the 1989 Connie Mack championship team. [5] In 1990, he played collegiate summer baseball with the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. [9]

Playing career (1991–2006)

Minor leagues, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays (1991–99)

The Milwaukee Brewers selected Matheny in the eighth round of the 1991 Major League Baseball Draft, and he spent three years climbing the minor league system. [10] [11] He made his major league debut with the Brewers on April 7, 1994, at the age of 23; he became their starting catcher early in the next season. [12] [13]

During a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 26, 1998, Matheny was batting in the bottom of the ninth when he took a pitch from Rich Loiselle off his face. Remaining upright, Matheny placed his hand on his hip as Pirates catcher Jason Kendall and home plate umpire Jerry Crawford motioned wildly for the Brewers trainers. He spat out a mouthful of blood as he walked off the field. [14] At the end of that season, he became eligible for salary arbitration and the Brewers granted him free agency a few months later. [15]

Ten years after they drafted him, the Toronto Blue Jays signed on December 23, 1998, for the 1999 season. He served as Darrin Fletcher's understudy. Toronto released him after the season, and he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals on December 15, 1999.

St. Louis Cardinals (2000–04)

Matheny barely made the Cardinals roster after the spring training session, but went on to earn the starting catcher's role in the 2000 season. [16] He posted a career-high .261 batting average and provided exceptional defense for the Cardinals, with a .993 fielding percentage and throwing out 53% of would-be base stealers, well above the league average of 32%. [17] Matheny helped the Cardinals improve from their fourth-place finish in 1999 to capturing the National League Central Division title, and claimed his first Gold Glove award in the process. [18] After the season, the Cardinals signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract. [16]

After teammate Darryl Kile's sudden death in the summer of 2002, Matheny showed that he was "an inspirational leader", helping the team to cope and make it to the National League Championship Series. After the 2003 season, the St. Louis and Houston chapters of the BBWAA voted for Matheny as the inaugural winner of an award established in Kile's honor. [5]

Bolstering his growing reputation as a top defensive catcher, Matheny again won Gold Gloves with the Cardinals in 2003 and 2004. His defensive contributions helped St. Louis reach the postseason in four of his five years with the team, including claiming the National League pennant in 2004. [2] [19] Between August 1, 2002, and August 4, 2004, Matheny played in 252 games without committing an error, establishing a new Major League record for catchers. [4]

Matheny set another Major League record for catchers in 2004 by fielding 1,565 consecutive chances without an error. [4] During his playing days in a Cardinal uniform, Matheny caught 611 games, accumulating 4,938.1 innings and committing just 14 errors. [5] His .997 fielding percentage leads all catchers who have caught at least 2,000 innings for St. Louis. [20] He became a free agent after the 2004 World Series, primarily due to the emergence of rookie catcher Yadier Molina, with whom he would eventually be reunited.

San Francisco Giants (2005–06)

Matheny playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2006. Mike Matheny.jpg
Matheny playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2006.

Matheny signed a three-year contract with the San Francisco Giants on December 13, 2004. The next season, he displayed a rare power surge, amassing career-highs with 13 home runs, 34 doubles, a .406 slugging percentage and 59 runs batted in (RBIs). Matheny continued his defensive excellence, compiling a team-record .999 fielding percentage and leading National League catchers with 13 double plays, 77 assists, and 39 base-stealers caught stealing, earning his fourth Gold Glove. [12] [5] He also took home the Willie Mac Award that year, accorded annually to a San Francisco Giant for spirit and leadership. [21]

Matheny landed on the disabled list on May 31, 2006, after a series of foul balls caromed off his mask, resulting in a serious concussion. [22] In July, the Giants announced that he would not return for the remainder of the season and that his career status was in doubt. MLB.com's Giants beat writer, Rich Draper, articulated that Matheny's career was likely over due to continued struggles with post-concussion syndrome. [23]

Retirement and career statistics

On February 1, 2007, Matheny announced his retirement from Major League Baseball at the age of 35 due to ongoing symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. [4] Shortly thereafter, Matheny became a baseball mentor for Protégé Sports and filming some catching tips and drills for the Scottsdale-based company.

In his 13-year major league career, Matheny played in 1,305 games, accumulating 925 hits in 3,877 at-bats for a .239 career batting average, along with 67 home runs, 443 RBIs, and an on-base percentage of .293. [12] He led National League catchers twice in fielding percentage and ended his career with a .994 average, which was four points above the league average during his playing career. [12] His .994 career fielding percentage ranks tenth all-time among Major League catchers. [24] Matheny also twice led National League catchers in base-runners caught stealing. [12]

Managerial career (2012–2018; 2020–present)

St. Louis Cardinals


Matheny as manager of the Cardinals in June 2012. IMG 9783 Mike Matheny.jpg
Matheny as manager of the Cardinals in June 2012.

On January 24, 2008, Matheny returned to the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a special adviser for the first two weeks of spring training. They announced him as their new manager on November 14, 2011, following Tony La Russa's retirement, making him the youngest manager in the major leagues. [25] Matheny's other prior coaching experience included Little League Baseball and other interviewees included Terry Francona, Ryne Sandberg, José Oquendo, Chris Maloney and Joe McEwing, all of whom already had managerial or coaching experience in the major leagues. [26]

First season as manager (2012)

On April 4, 2012, Matheny won in his managerial debut against the Miami Marlins in the first game at their new ballpark. [27] Twenty days later, Matheny was ejected from a game for the first time for arguing a pivotal safe/out call by umpire Bill Welke in the bottom of the 10th inning of a 3–2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. [28]

Matheny's first season as Cardinals manager was an overall success, finishing the regular season with an 88–74 record en route to capturing the National League wild-card game and qualifying for the postseason. The Giants defeated the Cardinals in the NLCS. [29]


Matheny presents the Cardinals lineup card on May 12, 2014. Mathenycard2014.jpg
Matheny presents the Cardinals lineup card on May 12, 2014.

On February 14, 2013, the Cardinals picked up Matheny's 2014 option. [30] He surpassed the success of his first season by guiding the club in 2013 to a 97–65 record, the best record in the National League, and his first National League Central division title. The Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 3–2 in the NLDS and the Los Angeles Dodgers 4–2 in the NLCS for his first NL pennant. The Boston Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in the World Series in six games, with many similarities to 2004, when Matheny was also a key member of the team (as catcher)—the Cardinals finished with the best record in the NL, and the Red Sox likewise defeated the Cardinals in the World Series. However, in 2013, St. Louis lost four key players to season-ending injuries, including Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal, Jaime García and Jason Motte—rookies comprised half of the World Series pitching staff. [31] On November 20, 2013, the Cardinals extended his contract for three more years through 2017. [32]

Making his first All-Star appearance as a major leaguer, Matheny was the National League manager in the 2014 game, which the American League won, 5–3. [33] The Cardinals won the NL Central division title in 2014, their second consecutive title, and third consecutive playoff appearance with Matheny as manager. [34] More trends continued as they eliminated the Dodgers from the playoffs for the second consecutive season, this time in the NLDS. Just like in 2012, the Giants eliminated the Cardinals in the NLCS. [35]


After defeating the Chicago Cubs 10–9 on May 4, 2015, the Cardinals sported an MLB-best 19–6 record, which was the best 25-game start for the club since at least 1900. [36] Having won seven in a row, it established a career-high for Matheny. [37] The Cardinals defeated the Cubs again the next game, 7–4, extending the win streak to eight. [38] A 3–1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on May 17, 2015, secured the 300th win of his managerial career. [39] In August 2015, Baseball America published that fellow managers and coaches in the National League rated Matheny the second-best manager in the league. [40] On September 19, the Cardinals became the first team in the majors to advance to the playoffs. Matheny became the first manager in MLB history to guide his club to the postseason in each of his first four full seasons. [41] [42] With an 11–1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 30, the Cardinals won 100 games for the first time in Matheny's managerial career, while clinching their third consecutive NL Central division title. The Pirates, who had kept close for most of the season, had already won 96 games, while clinching a wild-card berth. [43] [44] However, the Cubs, the second wild-card entrant, defeated the Cardinals in the NLDS in four games. [45] Matheny finished second in the NL Manager of the Year Award voting, [46] and was a co-winner of the J. G. Taylor Spink St. Louis Baseball Man of the Year Award. [47]


On May 27, 2016, Matheny gained his 400th career win in a 6–2 defeat of the Washington Nationals. In 2016, Matheny's contract was extended to 2022. [48]

Matheny reached the 1,000th game of his career as manager on May 1, 2018. It was a 3−2, walk-off victory versus the Chicago White Sox, with Yadier Molina hitting the game-winning single. Matheny joined Red Schoendienst, Whitey Herzog, and Tony La Russa as the only managers to pilot the franchise for at least 1,000 games. Overall, his teams had won 560 games for a .560 winning percentage. [49]

Matheny was fired by the Cardinals on July 14, 2018. [50] [51] His managing record was 47–46 (.505) in 2018, and for his career over 1,065 games was 591–474 (.555). [52] During his time off, Matheny completed a "Baseball Analytics" course from the online sports-career training school Sports Management Worldwide, founded and run by Dr. Lynn Lashbrook. [53]

Kansas City Royals

On October 31, 2019, Matheny was hired as manager of the Kansas City Royals after the retirement of Ned Yost. [54]

Managerial record

As of games played on June 11, 2021.
TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
GamesWonLostWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
STL 2012 1628874.5432nd in NL Central76.538Lost NLCS (SF)
STL 2013 1629765.5991st in NL Central98.529Lost World Series (BOS)
STL 2014 1629072.5561st in NL Central45.444Lost NLCS (SF)
STL 2015 16210062.6171st in NL Central13.250Lost NLDS (CHC)
STL 2016 1628676.5312nd in NL Central
STL 2017 1628379.5123rd in NL Central
STL 2018 934746.505Fired
STL total1065591474.5552122.488
KC 2020 602634.4334th in AL Central
KC 2021 623032.483
KC total1125666.459
Total [52] 1177647540.5452122.488

Awards and accomplishments




Personal life

Matheny's wife, Kristen, [6] is a former field hockey player at the University of Michigan. They have five children together. Their oldest son, Tate, played college baseball at Missouri State University and was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 4th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. [57] [58] Their daughter, Katie, played ice hockey at Ohio State,. [59] Currently, two of the younger Matheny sons play baseball collegiately—Luke for Saint Louis University [60] and Blaise for Missouri State University. [61] Matheny majored in sports management and communications with an emphasis in Spanish. [62]

Matheny routinely chronicles his life experiences and maintains a blog of which topics includes leadership and changing the culture of youth sports. [63] [64] He is a Christian, and has spoken about his faith, saying, "... Jesus Christ is at the center of my life. [My faith is] all that I am, every day, every decision that I make." [65] He has been known to add a verse from the Bible to his autographs. Under his name, he includes either "John 3:16" or "John 3:17". [66]

Charity work

Matheny organized and created the Catch-22 charity (named for his playing position and uniform number) which donated tickets for Cardinals games between 2002 and 2004. In 2005, Matheny opened the "Catch-22 Miracle Field" at the Chesterfield Valley Athletic complex in Chesterfield, Missouri. [5] The field has a completely flat and firm rubber surface and other features to allow children with a wide array of physical and mental handicaps to participate. [5] [67]

Real estate ventures

Unprofitable real estate transactions left Matheny heavily in debt. In 2005, Matheny founded MPD Partnership with two former professional indoor soccer players, Daryl Doran and Brett Phillips. They purchased a block of the WingHaven development in St. Charles and realized a $2.4 million profit in six months. After Doran left the partnership to start a gym, Matheny and Phillips used their money to secure an $11.8 million loan from the Business Bank of St. Louis for an 11-acre tract near Interstate 64. [68] That investment lost money, at least partially due to the financial crisis of 2007–08, and Matheny wound up more than $4 million in debt. In May 2010, he wrote to the Business Bank to say that he would not repay the remainder of the loan. The bank sued him one month later. [69] [70]

In 2010, he lost a 17-room house in Wildwood, Missouri, following insolvency on two commercial plots in near Chesterfield Valley. [69]

Matheny's attorney, Robert Blitz, was handling a similar case—Fischer and Frichtel, a homebuilder who also defaulted on assets after sustaining losses over the same time period, contends that they should not be fully liable for what is termed as "deflationary debt". The St. Louis appellate court deferred the case to the Supreme Court of Missouri. [71] In January 2013, a circuit court ruling determined that the Matheny partnership owed the Business Bank $4.4 million. [68]

See also

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