Home News Skip Schumaker credits father with MLB career, rise to manager

Skip Schumaker credits father with MLB career, rise to manager

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It takes certain qualities to be a Major League manager.

Miami’s Skip Schumaker possesses them, and he can thank his father, Wayne, for passing down his loyalty and perspective.

“I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but I think sometimes you need it in this sport or definitely in my seat,” Skip said. “He’s always been about family, making his kids and his wife a priority, and that’s kind of where I’m at. The job is the job. It’s not what we’re defined as, and he didn’t want his job to be like what people saw him as. It’s tough in my profession. People see you as a baseball guy, but I want to be known more as a really good husband and dad. I think that’s kind of what carried over for me.”

Wayne had a background in football and hockey, but when Skip showed a preference for baseball, Wayne watched MLB games and memorized drills to coach his son’s teams from the ages of 5-12 at the Torrance American Baseball League.

Skip’s admiration for his father was evident at the age of 5, when he told Wayne he wanted to be just like him and hit off the tee as a lefty despite being right-handed. A 10-year-old Skip declined going to sleepovers because he had a game the next day, discipline that inspired Wayne to build a mechanism into the garage wall for his son to hit off when it rained. During Skip’s pro career, he hit every other day in the cages over the offseason with just two people: Wayne and Mark McGwire.

Wayne and his wife, Marlene, aren’t quite sure where Skip’s work ethic comes from, but it’s clear a lot of it stems from the examples his parents set. Four times a week, Wayne commuted from Orange County as the Los Angeles County chief of beaches and harbors safety and sanitation. He would leave home before the sun came up and arrive later to avoid notoriously bad Southern California traffic. In order not to miss his son’s games, Wayne would trade shifts with colleagues.

“I walk in the front door, and he’s got a bat in his hand, saying, ‘Hey, Dad, let’s go to the batting cages,'” Wayne recalled. “That was just a religious thing that I would automatically know when I got home if we didn’t have practice with the team, I was going to batting practice with Skip in the cages. He was just that type of young man, young boy.”

Those early years stand out most to Skip, whose favorite childhood memories involve car rides all over California for travel ball. What Skip wanted most was for his dad to be around. A father of two himself, Skip tries to do the same even though he is on the opposite coast from his family. Luckily, his parents live five minutes away from his wife, Lindsey, and kids, Brody and Presley. With school out for the summer, Skip and his baseball-playing son could be seen standing next to each other during batting practice on the last homestand.

“You think about your relationship with your dad and how fast life is really going, and then you think about what you could maybe take away from your relationship, and then how you can make it better or the same or whatever with your kids,” Skip said. “I always think about the present thing in the back of my mind, and do they feel like I’m present even though I’m not here? I felt like that was from my dad, and I’m trying to take that to my kids.”

Both Wayne and Marlene knew early on that Skip had the potential to be a manager one day. Marlene remembers asking Skip after one of his high school games why he had gone up to the coach. Turns out he had picked up the other team’s signs. That baseball mind continued to grow during Skip’s 11-year MLB career with the Cardinals, Dodgers and Reds, as Wayne often observed Skip sitting by Tony La Russa or Don Mattingly in the dugout when he wasn’t in the lineup.

As Skip’s biggest fans, Wayne and Marlene made sure to be in the stands over the years. They couldn’t wait to see Skip’s first Opening Day as a manager. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it to Miami because Wayne, who has been dealing with heart disease, was told not to fly by his doctors.

Last September when Wayne had an incident, Marlene called Lindsey to relay the message. The Cardinals’ bench coach at the time, Skip didn’t think twice about flying home and taking an Uber to the hospital.

“I said, ‘You need to get back to the game,'” Marlene recollected. “He goes, ‘Mom, it’s baseball. That’s my dad.'”

While Skip interviewed for the Marlins’ job over the fall, Wayne continued to battle. His parents believe Skip likely considered not taking the job out of worry for his father’s health.

“Every day you’re grateful for every day,” Skip said. “When you have heart issues, you’re just constantly fighting to stay here and to see your grandkids and kids. It’s been a lot on my mom, our family, but he’s a fighter. There were some really dark times last year, so thankfully he’s a fighter, and he’s still around.”

After two months of watching every game on TV, the Schumakers finally got to see Skip in action last month. Twenty-five family members reunited in a suite for the Marlins’ series finale at Anaheim Stadium.

Wayne gets a kick out of seeing Skip’s fiery personality on display. After all, Skip takes after him. They speak every other day, mainly about life but sometimes about in-game decisions.

“He says, ‘You’ve got to remember, Dad, I’m a manager now. I’m not one of the players anymore,'” Wayne said. “I said, ‘Oh yeah, you’re right. I gave you that start.'”

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