Ex-Hornet Steinhorn coaching with Cardinals

DOVER — J.P. Blandin said one thing was always obvious about Russ Steinhorn.

His former Delaware State baseball assistant coach wasn’t afraid of hard work.

“He recognized, ‘Hey, you’ve got to put in your work,’” said Blandin, the Hornets’ head coach. “‘All I need is somebody to give me a chance and I can out-work guys.’ He had that kind of seriousness to being a coach at a young age.”

So Blandin is hardly surprised that Steinhorn has kept climbing up the baseball ladder. This weekend, the 35-year-old Steinhorn earned his biggest promotion yet when he was elevated to the role of hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.

It’s his first time in the majors for Steinhorn, who now calls Magnolia his home base.

After spending three seasons with DSU — the last time in 2012 — Steinhorn married Amanda Devine in Dover in 2016. They have one child.

Blandin, who has kept in touch with Steinhorn, said he’s excited for him.

“There’s a lot of pride in that,” said Blandin. “You’re rooting for your players but you’re also rooting for those young guys who come in and coach, too. You hope that they move on, get jobs and stay in the business as long as they can.

“That’s great. You love to see that.”

“Delaware State and Coach Blandin mean everything to me and my coaching career,” said Steinhorn. “It was the first place and the first person that believed in me as a coach and gave me my first opportunity.”

The Cardinals had to shift their coaching staff around this weekend after assistant coach Willie McGee opted to take off the rest of the season because of concerns about the coronavirus.

Steinhorn was the Cards’ minor league hitting coordinator before being called up. He has paid his baseball dues, working in both the Astros and Phillies organizations as well as at Clemson University.

Blandin said it was the work Steinhorn did as a full-time assistant with DelState in 2012 that helped open the door for him. The Hornets went 40-17-1 that spring, tying the school record for wins in a season.

Steinhorn was starting to use analytics in his hitting instruction.

“Those kind of things that he was doing with our offense were what got him noticed by the Astros,” said Blandin. “He’s really cool with recognizing, ‘Hey, there’s opportunities at Delaware State. It got me this opportunity in professional baseball.’

“To me, it’s awesome. I was just appreciative having that kind of coach on our staff. His attention to detail and his work ethic were second to none. The guy was just a really great baseball guy and a really hard worker.”

“I finished college in Florida and moved up to Delaware not knowing what to expect,” said Steinhorn. “But they welcomed me with open arms and my life changed forever.

“Not only is it the place where I began coaching but it is where I met my wife and started a family.”

In 2009-10, Steinhorn spent two seasons with the Hornets after former DSU assistant Mike August met him when they were together on a summer league team. Blandin said the youngster was clearly willing to do whatever was necessary, including recruiting as a grad assistant.

Blandin said Steinhorn brought in several players from Virginia who went on to put up good offensive numbers with the Hornets.

“We hadn’t had a lot of guys from that area generally,” said Blandin. “But he went out and spent the summer getting after recruiting and brought in some kids. He did a really good job with that before he left (in 2010).

“It was great that he had a chance for that one year to come back and coach some of the guys that he recruited.”

In his first DSU stint, Steinhorn worked with the Hornets’ pitchers, including MLB-draft pick Dan Perkins.

Steinhorn has already traveled a great deal in a short period of time to build a career in baseball. But Delaware will always be a big part of his life now.

“We have moved all over the country for coaching from NC, SC, Iowa and even the Dominican Republic,” said Steinhorn. “But we have made our way back and found our home in Delaware … None of these experiences would of ever happened if I didn’t get the opportunity to work at DSU or for Coach Blandin and for that, I am forever grateful.”