Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 11/18/11
ST. LOUIS It took 20 seasons as a minor league manager, but Chris Maloney finally got the phone call that he had been waiting for. After usually telling his Triple-A players that they were headed to the big leagues, Maloney got to experience a phone conversation like no other. He was headed to the big show himself. Maloney was hired Thursday as the Cardinals first base coach, a long overdue honor for someone who had certainly paid his dues in the minor leagues. "That's funny that you mention that because it's really cool when you get the call," Maloney said. "I've been waiting to do this a long time and it's a big thrill to finally graduate so to speak. It's been a nice couple of days here since finding out." Maloney takes over for longtime coach Dave McKay, who was reassigned in the organization after 16 years coaching first base for the Cardinals. His managing career began in 1991 after a brief playing career in the minor leagues. Maloney managed low-level teams in the Cardinals organization in Johnson City, Hamilton, Savannah, and Little Rock before the Houston Astros offered him a job managing their Triple-A team in 2002. After three seasons managing the Astros Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans, Maloney returned to the Cardinals organization to manage Double-A Springfield in 2005. Two years later, he was promoted to manage the Triple-A affiliate in Memphis in 2007. In five seasons managing Memphis, Maloney finished with a winning record four times no easy task considering the amount of roster shuffling that goes on with the Cardinals calling up players from his roster to the big league club. Maloney led the Memphis Redbirds to the Pacific Coast League Championship in 2009. For the first time in a long time, Maloney won't be the manager. But coaching first base is more than fine with him if it means being on the big league staff. "It's a big thrill to be apart of the big league club because that's what I've always wanted to do," Maloney said. "It's been a long road getting there. It will be different not managing the game, no doubt about it. "The last 20 years I've been managing and every time I'm on the field I've run the game so that will be a little bit of an adjustment, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I think it will be nothing but great experience for me." Maloney, 50, was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and graduated from Mississippi State University. He continues to live in Jackson during the offseason. While excited to join the big league staff, Maloney is disappointed it won't be to work with former manager Tony La Russa. The two talked almost daily about his players at Triple-A and developed a close relationship. La Russa announced his retirement three days after the Cardinals won the World Series. "Tony was very, very good for me," Maloney said. "I cant' speak highly enough of him and the job he did with the ballclub day in and day out. The run he led them on was nothing short of miraculous. "I'm really going to miss Tony. It's going to be a little different going to spring training and not seeing No. 10 around." And it's going to be different for Maloney, who's advanced to the big leagues for the first time in his career.
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