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MLB Brights: Monday’s feel-good baseball stories, including Toronto manager saves a life

Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday.

No, seriously.

Yes, Monday.

What if Mondays could be the most uplifting, breath-giving, inspiring day of the week?

That’s what we — and MLB and baseball — are here for. Because in the Wonderful World of Spring Training (WWorST), the baseball and sunshine pop seven days a week, turning the calendar into a linear continuum that dissolves almost all senses of week-starts and weekends.

In other words, TGIM!

And to show it, three feel-right stories to help make this Monday look as good as any Friday or Saturday.

2023 MLB Manager of the Year winner

john schneider
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Can we just give the 2023 award to John Schneider right now? 

Word surfaced Sunday that the Blue Jays manager administered the Heimlich Maneuver to a woman in a restaurant recently after he noticed her choking as he and his wife settled in for lunch at a Dunedin, Florida, establishment (via The Athletic).

His wife Jessy told The Athletic: “The way he held his cool you would have thought he was managing a wild-card game. It was so graceful.”

Schneider was said to have stepped to the nearby table, asked if he could help, then called on memories of his sixth-grade Heimlich training to help dislodge the piece of shrimp in the woman’s throat.

She was fine. Schneider and his wife resumed their nice afternoon together.

And management rewarded him with a free beer.

Liam Hendriks’ Life Force

liam hendriks
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Words such as “special” and “joy” and “inspiration” were flowing as much as tears were were occasionally choked back when White Sox closer Liam Hendriks showed up last week between cancer treatments to spend time with teammates in Glendale, Arizona (via ESPN).

Hendriks, who announced early last month that he’s been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, threw a bullpen session by the end of last week, even though his timeline for a return is anything but certain.

“Same exact spirits, same exact Liam that we all know and love,” teammate Lucas Giolito told ESPN, adding that it was “pretty devastating” to hear last month’s news.

As much as Hendriks has provided value as an All-Star closer his first two seasons with the White Sox, he also has been one of the bigger, more impactful influences in the clubhouse.

“Liam is absolutely a massive part of our team and our family,” Giolito said. “To see him dealing with sickness like that broke my heart, but I will say he’s absolutely killing it right now with his treatments.”

The team seems optimistic about a return at some point this season, with perhaps a better idea of a timeline by the season starts.

Meanwhile, he’s making sure he’s already there.

Heart of Stone: A Negro Leagues inspirational story

negro leagues baseball museum
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of inspiring, saw a play over the weekend about the drive and perseverance of Toni Stone, the first woman professional baseball player — who famously replaced Hank Aaron on the Indianapolis Clowns’ roster when Aaron left the Negro Leagues to sign with the Braves in the early 1950s.

Playwright Lydia R. Diamond conspicuously leaves out that Aaron detail to tell a more layered, significant story through Stone’s voice of relationships, ambition, self-worth and purpose against a backdrop of gender and racial barriers and challenges that continue to reverberate through daily American life today.

“Did I ever tell you about the time I got a hit off Satchel Paige?” Stone says.

The tour only runs for another week in Chicago

But even if you can’t make one of the last shows, Stone’s is a story worth discovering. Two places to do that on the baseball map any time of the year include Kansas City’s Negro League Museum at 18th and Vine and the Minnesota African American Museum in Minneapolis (Stone grew up in nearby St. Paul, where a ball field is named after her).

Gordon Wittenmyer covers Major League Baseball for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @GDubCub.

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