Prior to coaching, Schneider played six seasons in the Blue Jays minor league organization.
Schneider's brother, Kevin, is the head coach at Immaculata University.
John's wife is Erin. They have a son, Gunner.
Oct 21, 2022: Twenty years ago, a young John Schneider made his Minor League debut for the Auburn Doubledays, the Short Season affiliate of the Blue Jays. It was the beginning of what Schneider calls "a very mediocre playing career.”
Schneider was introduced as the 14th manager of the Blue Jays, bringing full circle a remarkable journey through this organization that has already spanned two decades for the 42-year-old. He agreed to a three-year contract, including a club option for a fourth season in 2026.
Following his playing days, which ended in 2007 at Triple-A, Schneider moved into coaching and has touched nearly every rung of the ladder through the system, beginning at the club’s complex in Dunedin, Fla. He took over as interim manager this past July, following the dismissal of Charlie Montoyo, and he showed the Blue Jays what many within the organization had already thought: He was the manager of the future.
With his wife, Jess, and two sons, Gunner and Greyson, on hand at Rogers Centre, Schneider was handed the keys by general manager Ross Atkins.
“I could go on and on about his attributes. There’s a lot of words that come to mind,” Atkins said. “The one thing I think about as I work with him and watch how he works with others is that it’s one thing to support people, but it’s another thing to make people feel supported. He authentically does that in a way that I think is exceptional.”
Toronto’s Game 2 loss in the Wild Card Series is still fresh, of course. The Blue Jays blew a seven-run lead, falling 10-9 to the Mariners in what will be remembered as one of the toughest losses in franchise history. Only a serious run in the coming years can erase that, but Schneider expects it to propel this club forward.
“It’s extremely difficult to be the last team out of 30 standing, and you’re going to be disappointed if you’re not every year,” Schneider said. “Certain things and experiences that players and staff went through this season, postseason included, will help us get better for next year. We’re talking about a young core group that has won together before and is hungry to do more of it.”
Looking to the future, it’s important to consider the role of the modern manager. Front offices are heavily involved in day-to-day decisions, particularly given the rise of analytics and new data. A manager’s job is to take all of that, digest it and get the message to their players in a way they’ll understand and embrace. That varies from player to player, which is where Schneider’s relationships come in. Some players, he’s new to, like any manager. Others, he’s managed in the Minor Leagues and won championships with. That rare level of experience is crucial as he works to shoulder this new load.
“It’s been a very, very cool back and forth,” Schneider said, “not only with Ross, but everyone involved in the front office. They hear us, we hear them, and we learn from each other along the way. It makes decisions in the moment a lot easier and a lot slower, so you feel comfortable about the ones that you are making.”
The two sides need to align, too. An analytics-driven front office and a gunslinger manager who makes emotional decisions don’t mesh. There has to be a balance of numbers and the human element, which is where the job of a modern manager lives. Atkins, from the day Schneider took over as interim manager, has praised his “preparation."
It’s vague, in a way, but Atkins is getting to a specific point. A club doesn’t want a manager guessing. When a strange situation comes up (and they will, over 162 games), a manager needs to be able to push the right button, in seconds, with television cameras and thousands of eyes on him.
“We’re always drilling down to try and take three or four steps beyond what’s already been thought about,” Atkins said. “Agility is huge. Being able to rely on experiences and ultimately trust your process to make decisions in the moment has to be there. It was evident to us that he was prepared to have that confidence to be agile.”
Expectations are clear now. This is no longer an organization satisfied with getting into the postseason. With this talent, the Blue Jays are expecting to make legitimate runs into deep October, and that’s how Schneider and this roster will be judged in the coming years. (K Matheson - MLB.com - Oct 21, 2022)
- Feb 19, 2023: - John Schneider set the tone early in Blue Jays camp, making one thing clear: There will be no choking in 2023.
Not in the regular season, not in the playoffs and certainly not at Clear Sky Draught Haus in Dunedin, where Schneider and his wife, Jess, were eating lunch one afternoon earlier this spring.
While Schneider ate, a woman at a nearby table began choking on a shrimp. Noticing that the other people dining with her didn’t know what to do, Schneider jumped in, performing the Heimlich maneuver on the woman and saving her. Looking back, the 43-year-old is grateful he had a distant memory of how to handle the situation.
“I learned it in about sixth grade and hadn’t thought about it since,” Schneider said, “so it was like, ‘I think I remember how to do this?’ I’m a bigger guy, so I think that helped a little bit. But no, I hadn’t thought about the Heimlich maneuver since Grade 6.”
Between laughs, Schneider confirmed that these things don’t look like they do in the movies. It “wasn’t like popping a bottle of champagne” when the shrimp shot out, he said, but once the Blue Jays manager ensured the woman was OK, both tables went back to their respective meals.
The woman and her friends didn’t know who Schneider was, either.
“It’s not like you’re looking for a pat on the back,” Schneider said. “She said thank you and carried on with her meal with her friends. We kind of just said, ‘See you later.’ Again, I wasn’t looking for a big compliment. I think I was a little bit more rattled than she was.”
The restaurant is walkable from the Blue Jays’ Spring Training home at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, and just a four-minute drive from the stadium. Once the situation had calmed, the restaurant’s manager came over to Schneider and his wife to thank him.
The reward for Schneider’s heroism? A free beer.
“I was a little bit rattled afterwards,” Schneider said. “So the beer did come in handy." (K Matheson - MLB.com - Feb 19, 2023)
|Home:||Lawrenceville, NJ||Team:||BLUE JAYS|
|Birth City:||Princeton, NJ|
|Draft:||Blue Jays #13 - 2002 - Out of Univ. of Delaware|
John may not hit enough to be a regular starting catcher in the Majors. (Editor's note: Schneider never made it to the Majors.)
In 2001, Schneider was selected by the Tigers in the 24th round of the draft, but he did not sign.
In 2002, he was chosen by the Blue Jays in the 13th round, and he signed. He was assigned to the Short Season-A Auburn Doubledays for the 2002 season, and hit .240 with two home runs and 11 RBIs.
The following year, Schneider played for the Class-A Charleston AlleyCats and the Triple-A Syracuse SkyChiefs, and batted .188 with 14 RBIs in 59 games.
Schneider played the entire 2004 season with the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays, appearing in 58 games and batting .206 with six home runs and 28 RBIs. With Dunedin in 2005, he hit .321 in 22 games and was promoted back to Triple-A Syracuse, but struggled to a .179 average through 34 games with the SkyChiefs.
John played at three different minor league levels in 2006, including the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, but was limited to 34 games due to back surgery. He retired after the 2007 minor league season, due to three concussions suffered during the season.
Voon Chong, his trainer in 2006-07, warned that another blow to the head would be major trouble. Dick Scott, the club’s farm director at the time, suggested a transitionary job coaching in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League if the 28-year-old was ready to move on.
One morning, before heading over to a minor-league spring game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he stopped manager Gary Cathcart. Bring another catcher for the trip, he said, because if he hit a homer that day, he was calling it a career right then and there. “Haha, OK,” is how Schneider remembers Cathcart’s response.
Sure enough, in his second at-bat, against a left-hander whose name he can’t recall, Schneider did indeed go deep. Cathcart gave him a knowing grin as they high-fived at third base. “I came in and literally took off my spikes, hung them up in the dugout and coached first the next inning. That was the last time I ever played,” says Schneider. “It was great. Went out on a high note. Because there are a lot of low notes in there.
"This is so much about the players,” Schneider says of what he most enjoys about managing. “Our job as coaches is to just get them prepared and have all the information. The greatest joy is watching guys have fun, play well, win, celebrate a win. Watching them interact with one another, watching the coaches interact. Being around this group for so long, four years with the staff and most of the players, every day when you see it work is the best feeling.” (Shi Davidi - Sportsnet - 8/12/2022)
Even as a kid growing up in Lawrenceville, N.J., Schneider tried to think along with the manager when he watched baseball on TV, drawn to the bigger strategies inherent to the sport. Fittingly, he ended up behind the plate as a player, relishing the games within the game every catcher must play, the vision of the entire field.
Moving from the playing to the coaching staff, "It keeps you in the game,” Schneider says of the transition. “I always said, if I wasn't going to be a coach, I would be a teacher. I don't know why, but I like sharing experiences. I like getting to know people. Baseball is what I know best, so it's easy to talk to guys about anything that the game has to offer.”
Those qualities helped him learn on the fly, which helped because he didn’t jump into coaching with preconceived ideas about philosophies and approaches. Mostly, he trusted his instinct, the way he builds relationships with an added a dose of cautionary tales he’d seen. A prime example? “Not being connected to your teammates. Not being connected to your staff,” he replies. An important early piece of advice he adhered to was, “try to spend one minute a day with each person. I literally tried to just talk to people, whether it was during BP, clubhouse, whatever.”
That part came easy to him. As a catcher he was the same way. “Social butterfly,” Schneider says with a grin. “It's easier when people trust you. Like when pitchers trusted what I was calling, it just made it easier. And that comes through conversations, not just game experiences. With relationships comes trust.
“I remembered how hard baseball was and I always found it easier to not wait around for a big play to happen,” says Schneider. “If you can kind of dictate the momentum of the game or the pace of the game, it’s just easier that way. Baserunning is a big part of it. Putting the ball in play is a big part of it. And just trying to take advantage of mistakes.”
And then there’s managing a group of 26 highly driven, uber competitive players who will have varying needs and desires at any given moment. A big part of what Schneider does when he’s making the rounds is taking the temperature in the clubhouse because “you're never going to have perfect attendance — someone’s always going to be pissed off at you,” he says. “Someone's always going through something and you kind of just try to stay ahead of it.”
To that end, he believes in “being brutally honest with players” but approaches difficult conversations with empathy “and always having their best interests in the forefront,” he adds. “It's not being afraid to say, hey, that's not up to standards, that's not up to par, this needs to be better or, hey, man, way to be aggressive. Whatever it is. But that's the delicate part. Being consistent in who you are. I'm not going to come in and bang tables and pound my chest and say I'm in charge. That's not how I operate. But them understanding yeah, I want to have fun and be loose, but at the same time there's definitely a standard we're going to hold you to.”
Dick Scott saw the ingredients for Schneider to provide all that way back in the day and now that his focus is on developing coaches, he still sees all the current elements a manager needs in him, too. “There's a lot more to it than X's and O's. There are guys who are good managers that know the X's and O's and there are guys who communicate well. When you get a combination of that, you've got yourself a good guy,” explains Scott. “From the periphery the players seem to like the vibe in the clubhouse, and that's so important. It's really the vibe, guys comfortable being themselves, they can go play, no extra tension coming from the manager’s office. It's effective, especially in this day and age. That's what players want.” (Shi Davidi - Sportsnet - 8/12/2022)
Schneider is an excellent backstop. He has a superb arm that shuts down the running game of the opposition. It is both strong and accurate.
- In 2002, as the catcher for the Univ. of Delaware, Schneider threw out nearly 60 percent of attempting runners.
POST-PLAYING CAREER POSITIONS
2009: Schneider was Manager of the Blue Jays Gulf Coast League team.
2011: John was Manager at Vancouver (NWL-Blue Jays).
Schneider said his injury problems as a player convinced him to make the jump to coaching and feels managing rookies in Florida the past two years has taught him how to be patient with players.
"I came from playing at the higher levels of minor league ball and major league spring training," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Lawrenceville, N.J. "You have to remember the kids are just starting out and they're not going to know everything. I learned to become much more relaxed and patient this past season compared with 2009."
Schneider, who ended his minor league career with Triple-A Syracuse, thinks of himself as a "player's manager" who can relate to what players go through.
"But I'm definitely an aggressive guy when we hit the field," he said. "I wouldn't say I'm overly aggressive, but I'm definitely trying to get the most out of my players."
"Hopefully I can teach them the daily grind of baseball so the game can slow down for them a bit and allow their ability to just kind of take over." (Bruce Constantineau - milb.com - Dec. 2010)
2012-2013: Schneider was Manager for the GCL-Blue Jays.
2014: John returned to Vancouver (NWL-Blue Jays) as Manager.
2018: Schneider was Manager for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (EL-Blue Jays).
2020: John was a coach for the Blue Jays under manager Charlie Montoyo.
July 2022: Schneider was named the Blue Jays' interim manager when the team fired Charlie Montoyo.
- Oct 21, 2022: The Blue Jays named John as the 14th manager of the organization, signing him to a three-year contract, including a club option for a fourth season in 2026.
2006: John had back surgery.
2007: Schneider suffered three concussions in one season—all from foul balls that pounded his mask.
- June-end of 2008 season: John was on the D.L.