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Through tears, Mike Shildt thanks Cardinals organization and mentors, acknowledges but does not detail 'differences'

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Cardinals on the brink of elimination from the National League Championship Series in Washington

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt hits grounders during batting practice before Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com.

In what had the tone and emotion of a goodbye letter to the organization that he "cared more about than my own career," Mike Shildt voiced his first public statements since his sudden firing as the Cardinals' manager last week.

He acknowledged there were differences of opinion that led to the shocking dismissal, though declined to go into details.

During a measured but emotional Zoom press conference with invited media, he read from a statement but did not take questions.

"I was told not to talk out of school," Shildt said. "And while clearly there were differences that led to this parting of ways, out of respect for the organization and the people who run it I can only express my gratitude, and all those philosophies that were shared the many years most of us were together allowed us to part ways as professional friends.

"What differences there were will be left unsaid publicly by me," Shildt concluded. "Let's move forward. Let's take care of the integrity and future of the organization."

He started his statement, which was delivered to media via Zoom, by thanking people with whom he worked during his 18 years with the Cardinals, emphasizing the players he worked with during their development.

The Cardinals "took a chance on an eager young baseball man," Shildt said, "and turned me into the man I am today."

His thanks became a tour of his time with the Cardinals, from learning from coaches and mentors like Mark DeJohn, to working with former manager Mike Matheny and talking with Hall of Famers Whitey Herzog and Bob Gibson and Lou Brock. He mentioned most of his staff by name, reserving special acknowledgement for the coach he once scouted as a player and then had as his bench coach, Oliver Marmol.

"Oli has my deepest and most trusted respect," he said.

Although close to tears several times as he mentioned the people who influenced him on his rise from scout to coach, coach to minor-league manager, and minor-league success to major-league manager, he had to pause when he reached his family.

"I'm also most grateful to ...," he said.

He paused for a long stretch.

"There's no crying in baseball," he added.

He then mentioned his wife, who he married during spring training 2020, and his two stepdaughters.

Shildt was named interim manager in July 2018 and led that year's team on a late, last-month surge for a postseason berth before falling short. They were eliminated on the final day of the season.

Named manager as the team began its plans for 2019, Shildt guided the team to postseason berths in each of his three full seasons as manager. He won the National League Manager of the Year award in 2019, his first full season at manager, and he will have received votes in every year he was manager once the 2021 ballots are revealed.

Overall, the Cardinals were 252-199 with Shildt at manager.

More details on the events that led to his dismissal are available in this story from the Post-Dispatch, and there will be updates of those in this story.

Shildt has one year remaining on his contract with the Cardinals, who intend to pay him through the 2022 season because the terms of the deal were kept. That would change if he's hired by another organization, and there are other teams that will explore hiring Shildt, possibly in a non-managerial role. The San Diego Padres intend to interview him for their vacant manager position, The Athletic reports.

The Cardinals accelerated their search for a new manager within 24 hours of the firing of Shildt, though some likely candidates have not heard from the team. John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, said he did not want to"drag our feet" on the hire, and on Saturday a source described how the team felt it was in position to move swiftly to hire their next manager.

Two leading candidates are internal options, bench coach Marmol and first-base coach Stubby Clapp.  

This is a breaking news story and will be updated throughout the day.

Derrick Goold

@dgoold on Twitter

dgoold@post-dispatch.com

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