Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 6/12/13
ST. LOUIS -- Toughness alone didn't make Mike Matheny the ideal choice to manage the Cardinals. It sure did help, though. And Matheny sure is tough. Not many of us could absorb a paintball barrage that left us bloody and bruised and be back at work the next day. Matheny did just that during spring training in one of his two seasons (2005-06) as Giants catcher. Near the end of a team-bonding paintball outing, he absorbed a pummeling that teammates still haven't forgotten. As Matheny recalls, enough paintball pellets remained for one final round, which would not be over until only one man was left standing in a battle that pitted pitchers and catchers against position players. "They lined us up and we took off running right at the opposing team," Matheny says. "All of a sudden, my hopper comes open and all my paintballs fell out. I'm reaching for the ground, trying to put balls back in my gun. I end up getting reloaded and I took another guy's gun." At this point, think Arnold Schwarzenegger making a last stand in Terminator, gun in each hand, ready to take on the world. "I'm just getting drilled," Matheny says. "But I'm thinking I can't surrender here. At the end, I was still standing. I hadn't quit." Matheny had gone to the outing even though his wife, Kristin, was visiting from St. Louis. "It was a great opportunity for me to say, 'Guys, I'm going to dinner with my wife,' " Matheny says. "But I told her I really have to do this." He had to be there for his pitchers. So instead of dinner, Kristin ended up spending the evening counting the marks left on her husband from a paintball pummeling. "My wife counted 180-some different times where I got hit with a paintball," Matheny says. "I didn't think you could get a fever from welts, but I had one." His stand left his new teammates impressed. "It's amazing what an impact it had," Matheny says. "I had guys talk about that forever. I didn't think it was that big a deal. Everybody got shot, just some of us more than others." When I called one of his teammates, Steve Finley, to ask what he remembered about the outing, I said I wanted to test his memory for a story I was reporting on Matheny. Finley's first words: "Does this have anything to do with paintball?" How would you know that? "When you said test my memory and Matheny, that's what I thought of," Finley says. "That is one of the memories I have etched in my mind about Mike Matheny." While David Freese was impressed to hear about Matheny's ability to take a paintball beating, he cited another example of his manager's toughness. When Matheny was playing for the Brewers in 1998, he got hit by a pitch in the face. "Ninety-some miles per hour, flush in the jaw, and he didn't even go down," Freese says. "He was spitting out blood and he just walked to the dugout. That ended up being the game-winning run." Matheny ended up back in the lineup the next day. Such toughness has gone a long way in Matheny earning respect from his players. When your boss is tough, you're more likely to man up, too. "It trickles down, for sure," Freese says. "As extremely tough as Mike is physically, mentally he overpowers his physical toughness. You just feel it when you're around him. You understand quickly how tough Mike is, the way he handles the good and the bad." In the macho world of the major leagues, the respect a manager gains from his players goes a long way in determining his success. "Leadership and toughness are intertwined," Freese says. "We see both in Mike every day." They don't need to engage him in a paintball game, either. You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Greg Jennings: Ryan Tannehill has had his hands tied by coaches

Josh McDaniels 'happy' with Pats but wants to be a head coach again

WATCH: Jim Harbaugh in cleats throws out first pitch at Cubs game

Why Rickie Fowler will win the PGA Championship

Warren Sapp bitten on arm by shark

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Fitzpatrick, Jets agree to one-year deal

Baker considering removing Papelbon from closer role?

Greg Hardy struggling to find work, reportedly even in CFL

Jets players told not to discuss Ryan Fitzpatrick situation

Brock Lesnar won't be punished by WWE for UFC drug test

Report: Cowboys to be fined up to $250K for suspended players

Report: Ravens WR Mike Wallace failed conditioning test

WATCH: Kobe Bryant drives Ferrari around Italian racetrack

Terrelle Pryor shouts out Ohio State after ban ends

Justin Timberlake advocates for Memphis to join Big 12

Poll: Las Vegas residents don’t support public funds for NFL stadium

Conor McGregor talks trash to Nate Diaz on ‘Conan’

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Real Madrid can’t train at Norwegian school because of the kids

Newspaper uses Michael Jordan ‘crying face’ as image

Equipment manager Blake Griffin punched no longer works for Clippers

Report: Nicks signing one-year deal with Saints

Reds 'picking up the pace' on Jay Bruce trade talks

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker