Look for this feature on our manager, Ron “Pop” Warner, and pitching coach, Bryan “Gerdy” Eversgerd, in copies of the Bird Feeder program, available starting May 13 at home games at AutoZone Park.
First of a three-part series.
The Cardinal Way
Ron “Pop” Warner and Bryan “Gerdy” Eversgerd embody “The Cardinal Way”, striving to teach and coach their players the right way to do things. Warner is the manager of the Memphis Redbirds for the second straight season, and has been a coach in the St. Louis Cardinals organization since 2000. Warner spent nine seasons as a player in the Cards’ system prior to his coaching career.
Eversgerd joined the Redbirds as pitching coach for the 2013 season, having been a Cardinals minor-league coach since 2004 and was a player in the St. Louis organization for nine of his 12 professional seasons, including winning the PCL Championship with Memphis in 2000.
Both men have spent much of their lives associated with the St. Louis Cardinals, an organization of stability and success. “It’s the Cardinal Way,” said Warner about his career. “It’s all the old Cardinals who taught me how to play the game. George Kissell, Dave Ricketts, just to name a couple. This organization goes about teaching the game of baseball, and the game of life. Once you’re a Cardinal and you’re in it for a few years, you understand the way they operate. It’s safe to say there’s no other organization that comes close to this one as far as how we teach the history and the game of baseball. I don’t want to leave this organization, I’ve been here 23 years. It’s who I am and what I do.”
It was George Kissell, the longtime Cardinal, who gave Warner his nickname. Kissell was a Cardinal for 69 years, as a player, manager, coach, instructor and advisor. Kissell mentored Sparky Anderson, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa. “It was my first day in the New York-Penn League, up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada,” recalled Warner. “He (Kissell) was there and he was one of our senior advisors. I was working out and my group was taking batting practice in the cage. He stopped and asked me my name, and it was Pop Warner after that. He named a few guys that day, but mine stuck.”
Eversgerd ranks third in Redbirds history with 156 relief appearances. He was the pitching coach for the 2012 Texas League-champion Springfield Cardinals. Eversgerd served as pitching coach for the last two Cardinal Minor League Pitcher-of-the-Year award recipients, Seth Maness in 2012 and Shelby Miller in 2011.
Eversgerd also attributes his success in the St. Louis system to The Cardinal Way. “Growing up in this organization, you learn to play the right way,” explained Eversgerd. “George Kissell was instrumental in laying the foundation for what we do every day.” Eversgerd was the recipient of the 2012 George Kissell award from the Cardinals, given yearly to a minor league coach for displaying excellence in player development.
“I’ve been in other organizations and there’s something different about the Cardinals,” Eversgerd continued. “It’s the Cardinal Way, it’s the way we learn the game, it’s the way we approach the game in a professional manner. It’s pretty special to be a part of. I feel I’m privileged to put on the uniform every day. There are other teams I’ve been with and didn’t feel that. But I do when I put that bat and birds on every day, it’s a special feeling.”
Part two coming on Thursday, April 18.