Good Guy Schneider: Blue Jays manager performs the Heimlich to save woman from choking

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider discusses how he used the Heimlich maneuver to save a woman who was choking on a piece of shrimp while he was out for lunch with his wife.

In baseball, it’s usually the closer who makes the save. In this case, it was the manager who got the job done.

Blue Jays skipper John Schneider recently helped save a woman who was choking at a local restaurant, successfully applying the Heimlich manoeuvre to dislodge a shrimp that was blocking her air flow.

“Right place, right time,” Schneider said Sunday. “I was just enjoying lunch with (wife) Jess. You either help or you don’t and I decided I’d go over and see if I could help.”

The incident occurred about two weeks ago at an establishment on the town’s main drag, about three kilometres from the Blue Jays’ player development complex.

Others at the woman’s table were slow to react, Schneider said, so he asked if he could help. The 43-year-old then thought back to first aid training from his younger days. 

“I learned it in sixth grade and hadn’t done it since,” he said of the procedure, which involves strong pressure being applied to the abdomen.

“So it was just like, ‘I think I remember how to do this.’ I’m a bigger guy so I think that helped a little bit.”

The six-foot-three 250-pound skipper, who’s entering his first full season as Blue Jays manager, said the woman didn’t recognize him. 

“She said, ‘Thank you,’ and carried on with her meal with her friends,” Schneider said. “I think I was a little more rattled than she was.”

A complimentary beer helped settle his nerves. 

Nicholas Christakos, general manager of the Clear Sky Draught Haus, said the staff on duty that day told him what happened. He said Schneider walked over from about three tables away to help the older woman.

“I heard he was really polite and really gentle, and then helped her with the Heimlich,” Christakos said. “He was very nonchalant and walked back over.”

As for the dislodged shrimp, Schneider said its exit “wasn’t like a movie.”

“It just came up naturally I guess,” he said. “But it wasn’t like popping a bottle of champagne.”

Schneider was promoted from bench coach to interim manager last July. 

He had the interim tag removed last fall and signed a three-year deal with a team option for the 2026 season.

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