Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider was in the right place at the right time for a life-saying moment Saturday afternoon.
Schneider, attending his first spring training as the club’s skipper, was eating lunch with his wife at a restaurant in the Dunedin, Florida area when a woman started choking on her meal and required first aid. The problem, however, is nobody at her table knew what to do.
Realizing that was the case, Schneider got up from his seat to offer assistance and started performing the Heimlich maneuver, ultimately saving the woman’s life. Afterwards, the 43-year-old received a free beer for his heroic efforts, which helped calm his racing heart rate.
“A woman was choking on, I think it was a [piece of] shrimp, and I wandered over there, asked if I could help — no one at her table was helping,” Schneider said. “So, a couple Heimlichs and she was all good.”
John Schneider said he learned the Heimlich Maneuver back in 6th grade, which came in handy yesterday when he saved a woman from choking on shrimp at a Dunedin restaurant.
His reward: a free beer.
“I was a little bit rattled afterwards, so the beer did come in handy.” #BlueJays
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) February 19, 2023
Prior to Saturday, Schneider admitted he hadn’t practiced the Heimlich maneuver since first learning it in Grade 6. Even so, he remembered enough to put his knowledge to use, leaning on his 6-foot-3, 250-pound frame to help dislodge the shrimp.
“I learned it [the Heimlich maneuver] in like sixth grade, and I hadn’t done it since,” Schneider said. “So it was just like, ‘I think I remember how to do this,’ and I’m a bigger guy — so I think that kind of helped a bit.”
Whenever a person is choking on food in a film or television show, the problem is typically resolved by having the character throw up their meal in dramatic fashion — think “Mrs. Doubtfire.” But nothing like that transpired this time.
Instead, once Schneider’s Heimlich maneuver proved successful, the woman could breathe again without needing to spit out her food across the table.
“It wasn’t like a movie. It wasn’t like across the table. It just came up naturally, I guess. But it wasn’t like popping a bottle of champagne,” Schneider detailed.
Schneider’s efforts are another example that not all heroes wear capes. He is also the second Toronto coach to save a life, joining former Maple Leafs skipper Dan Howley, who saved a girl from drowning while managing the Cincinnati Reds in 1931.
The Blue Jays named Schneider interim manager last season after firing Charlie Montoyo, making him the 15th manager in franchise history. He led the team to a 46-28 record, securing the first wild-card seed in the American League.
Schneider signed a three-year contract extension over the off-season, with a 2026 club option, ahead of his first full season as the club’s manager.