Coleman Wants to Steal Home Again


Vince Coleman one of my favorite Cardinals from the mid-80’s. is back and wants back in with the Cardinals as a base running instructor. I believe we could use him. The following article is from Rob Rains. It is a great read.and I am all for bringing Coleman back to the Cardinals family.

Vince Coleman wants to come back home.

The former Cardinal outfielder has spent the last two years working as a roving instructor in the Houston Astros organization but is hoping to land a similar position with the Cardinals this winter.

“I was born and raised there (the Cardinal organization) and I am known as a Cardinal,” Coleman said. “Wherever I go I am always a Cardinal.”

Coleman would like the chance to work with young players about baserunning and stealing bases, his specialty during a 13-year major-league career. His career total of 752 stolen bases ranks sixth all time.

His best years were with the Cardinals, coming up as a rookie in 1985 and leading the league in steals all six years he played in St. Louis, three times topping the 100-steal mark.

Coleman, who also spent the 2004 and 2005 seasons working in the Cubs organization, believes the time is right in baseball to place more of an emphasis on baserunning and stealing bases, areas where he believes he can make a major contribution.

“Now that we’ve passed the steroid era they (baseball) have to reconsider and make speed a part of the game,” Coleman said.

“What I do is build confidence in these guys. Once you have confidence it makes you play fast and at the same time it slows the game down for you. You rely on your instincts when you have the knowledge. I know I have a lot of knowledge to share because I’ve done it.

“I see where the game has changed. They have to go back to fundamentals. When you have a team that can go from first to third, can score from second on base hits, takes advantage of all the extra base hits, those are the teams that you usually find in the championship.”

The Cardinals do not currently have a specific minor-league instructor who works with players on baserunning and stealing. Coleman’s former teammate and close friend, Willie McGee, has helped in those areas, but only works a part-time schedule, spending a few days each month with one of the farm teams.

“I can be there more full time,” Coleman said. “When you get an athlete with that type of ability and pour some knowledge into them, that will make them dangerous.”

The Cardinals appear to have several players in the organization who have the potential to develop as basestealers, including outfielder C.J. McElroy, who led the organization with 41 stolen bases this year at Class A Peoria. Shortstop Juan Herrera had 27 stolen bases for the same team.

Shortstop Oscar Mercado led the rookie Appalachian League with 26 steals in just 60 games, and young outfield prospects Charlie Tilson and Magneuris Sierra also would appear to be players who could benefit from working with an instructor such as Coleman.

“I’ve watched the game develop over the years,” Coleman said. “That (stealing bases) was my passion. What I teach is what I had a passion for. I want to share that knowledge. It gives me a shot in the arm every day to see these kids grow and develop.”

Coleman was out of baseball from 2006 to 2011. He remarried and moved to San Diego, where he was enjoying time with his family when he got a phone call from Jeff Luhnow, offering him a chance to work in the Astros system.

Coleman jumped at the chance, and quickly realized he was doing what he loved to do and wanted to do. He has an invitation to return to the Astros system next year, but first wants to explore the possibility that he could come back to the Cardinals.

Coleman, whose eventual goal is to land a major-league coaching position, can point to several prospects with the Astros he believes he has helped. One of those players is even at the major-league level, second baseman Jose Altuve.

Altuve won the AL batting title this year with a .341 average and also led the league with 56 stolen bases, 21 more than he stole in 2013.

“I got him more erect, standing up,” Coleman said. “His first step is electric. That’s something I take credit for, that I got him to do that one thing.

“There are a bunch of kids over there that I know I have helped.”

The group includes outfielder Brett Phillips, voted the eighth best prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America, and former number one draft pick Carlos Correa, a shortstop, named the top prospect in the California League.

Coming back to the Cardinal organization, and working with their prospects, would provide some closure for Coleman to what he still considers his biggest regret in his life – leaving as a free agent after the 1990 season, signing a four-year deal with the Mets.

That started a period in which Coleman moved on to the Royals, Mariners, Reds and Tigers before retiring in 1997.

“It’s a regret that I live with to this day,” Coleman said. “It’s very hard to swallow as I look back on it. No matter where I go I’m identified as a St. Louis Cardinal but that was only for six years. … It was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life. To this day I don’t sleep good at night, as I look at baseball, I don’t feel good about the decision I made at that time.”

Coleman’s departure came at a troubled time for the Cardinals. August Busch Jr. had died, Whitey Herzog resigned as manager, McGee was traded to Oakland. Jack Clark had left as a free agent, Tom Herr was traded to Minnesota.

Coleman and his agent had discussed a contract with then-GM Dal Maxvill, who told him to become a free agent and the Cardinals would match whatever offer he received. The Cardinals did make him an offer but it was still several million dollars less than the Mets offer. Coleman said he begged Maxvill to match it, but it didn’t happen.

“I was looking at it as an opportunity to continue the winning ways,” Coleman said. “New York had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. There was no way on paper you could say they were going to lose. I was 29 years old and I was like ‘no matter where I go I’m going to play well and be the catalyst of the team and we’re going to win because that’s all I know.’ There’s more to it than what’s on paper.

“St. Louis gave me everything I wanted as a new-born baby. You get life, support, love, nourishment and that’s what St. Louis gave me. I apologize for taking that away from the fans. The greatest gift that you can give to a spouse is a new-born baby and that’s what St. Louis gave me. It was the biggest mistake I ever made because I never received that love and that type of engagement with the fans or with the game itself. It never ever was the same again.

“The (St. Louis) fans gave me that boost of confidence as I walked through the parking lot. ‘Let’s go Vince.’ It was a positive energy I felt. Driving down the highway fans were yelling and waving, ‘Let’s get them tonight.’ There was so much positive energy and I basically took it for granted and thought I could do that wherever I went. That wasn’t true.

Coleman believes to this day that had he stayed with the Cardinals he could have become the game’s career stolen base leader.

“You always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, and that you can create a situation you’ve been blessed with somewhere else,” he said. “I got hit with so many injuries it was like a punishment from God for me going to New York when He had given me everything and it was right there (in St. Louis). I didn’t realize how great a gift I had right there in front of me in St. Louis.”

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