By: Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
JUPITER, Fla. -- Tim Wallach is a big piece of the Miami Marlins coaching staff. So is Brian Schneider. Just ask Don Mattingly about the two former Expos.
"Tim knows what I like. It's great to have someone who is familiar with you. It's important to have someone you are comfortable with,'' said Mattingly, the new Marlins manager, of Wallach and Schneider, two new coaches with the Marlins. Of course, Wallach worked under Mattingly while the two were with the Dodgers for a number of years.
"Tim has a great knowledge of the game. I'm really happy to have him here,'' Mattingly said.
Wallach, who played for the Expos for close to 12 seasons before being traded following the 1992 season, is back surrounded by familiar people, including assistant trainer Mike Kozak and equipment manager John Silverman, both of whom worked for the Expos for decades. Marlins' special assistant Andre Dawson was also a teammate of Wallach's in the early-to-mid 1980s.
"It's nice to be back near West Palm Beach, too,'' the classy Wallach said, alluding to the Expos' long-time spring-training facility. "I made tonnes of friends while I was in Montreal. I still have very close friendships from my Expos' days: Scott Sanderson, Spike Owen, Tom Foley, to name a few. And guys like Gary Carter and Dawson helped me a lot about what had to be done. And we had a team that almost went to the World Series in 1981.''
Wallach was mentioned a number of times as being a potential Dodgers' manager a few years ago and wasn't granted permission to talk to the Blue Jays about their managerial position not that long ago.
"That's long-ago history. I don't want to talk about it,'' Wallach said of the Blue Jays' situation. "There were things that happened. My dad passed away that summer, too.''
Schneider has taken on the role of catching coach with the Marlins and Mattingly felt it was important to have a former receiver in the mix, especially with young catcher J.T. Realmoto still learning the ropes.
"Brian is perfect for us. The catching-coach position is not necessarily a new role for baseball but it is for us. As a former catcher, Brian is a solid guy to have around,'' Mattingly said.
"The Marlins didn't have an ex-catcher on their coaching staff so I was asked to come in,'' Schneider said. "J.T. is a young guy so I am going to help him as much as I can.''
Schneider caught for the Expos for a number of seasons and said the highlight of his time there was late in the 2003 season when they took a run at the NL East.
"I remember the walk-up crowds at Olympic Stadium toward the end of the season. That's my biggest memory,'' Schneider said. "The fans supported us like crazy. They appreciated what we were doing.''
Schneider was a member of that ill-fated Expos squad in 2004 and remembers the last game being played at the Big O, not a pleasant memory at all for anyone.
"That was bad. That was a hard day,'' Schneider said. "Some of us went up to the front offices and said our goodbyes. A lot of people were losing their jobs.''