How far would you go to effectively communicate with your team? We probably all say we'd go the distdance -- communication is essential to teaching and motivating. But would we learn another langauge? That's what St. Louis Cardinal manager Mike Matheny did -- and it's paid dividents.
In an article on FoxNews.com, Stan McNeal writes about how what started as a college course for Matheny at Michigan became much more in part to his college coach who knew Matheny was destined to advance his baseball career.
As McNeal writes:
Matheny was directed to Spanish classes by Wolverines coach Bill Freehan, who caught 15 seasons in the major leagues and saw a professional future for Matheny. He instructed Matheny to take Spanish every semester so he would be able to better communicate with the growing number of Latin players in the game. Matheny not only finished his education with the equivalent of a minor in Spanish, he continued to seek opportunities to speak the language after the Brewers drafted and signed him in 1998. All these years later, he still does. The key, he said, is to speak with those who know the language.
"Even if you're not perfect with it, you can see that your effort is appreciated," Matheny said. "It helped me develop a trusting relationship with a lot of pitchers over the years, or at least made that relationship easier to build."
Matheny's ability to speak Spanish never has been more helpful than this offseason. Since the death of Oscar Taveras, Matheny has spoken regularly with young right-hander Carlos Martinez to help him cope with the loss. Taveras was Martinez's closest friend on the Cardinals and, according to media reports, Martinez had invited Taveras to visit him at a resort in the Dominican Republic on the weekend of the fatal car crash.
You can read McNeal's entire article here which details Matheny handling a press conference in Spanish.