Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010
By Patrick Mooney
Jim Hendry recruited the Chicago area and the Creighton University head coach had a deal with Wilson Sporting Goods. One baseball clinic took him to Prospect High School and there he noticed a photo in the trophy case.
Hendry asked himself the same question Cubs fans would pose decades later: Whos the bald dude?
That teenager frozen in the picture was a natural leader, the three-sport athlete who played quarterback, point guard and shortstop.
This was the 1980s and Hendry didnt immediately realize that he had already watched Mike Quade at the University of New Orleans. Quade was teammates with two men Hendry got to know years earlier through the Cape Cod League, and remains close to even to this day.
Paul Mainieri would encourage Jeff Samardzija to play baseball in college and help convince the Cubs to draft the football All-American before leaving Notre Dame to become the head coach at Louisiana State University.
Randy Bush would win two World Series rings with the Minnesota Twins before joining the Cubs front office and rising to assistant general manager. Bush would be influential in reaching the agreement finalized this week and hiring the 51st manager in Cubs history.
Quade isnt a legacy or a superstar, but hes well-connected and you can be certain that others were rooting hard for him to get this job, to give credibility to the work they do in the minor leagues and maybe, slightly increase the odds that someone else might get a shot like this.
Mikes a terrific baseball guy and the reason people didnt put him on a higher level publicly is because he doesnt promote himself, Hendry said. Over time, the way the games changed (with) the Internet, the blogs, word of mouth and people doing favors Mike Quade did it the old-fashioned way.
Quade will look you in the eye and tell you what he thinks and for that Miguel Tejada is grateful. When Tejada lacked concentration in 1997, Quade benched him for a few games at Double-A Huntsville, the same tactic the manager used with Starlin Castro.
This young shortstop from the Dominican Republic would grow into a six-time All-Star and the American Leagues Most Valuable Player in 2002.
Hes a gentleman, Tejada said last month. Sometimes you dont have to play in the big leagues to be a good manager (if) youre a smart person and you respect the game.
Quade embraced the challenge of taking over a Cubs team that had lost 20 of its previous 25 games and a clubhouse that one player described as dead. From Aug. 23 on, that group won 24 of the final 37.
As manager, Quade was upgraded to a hotel suite on the road, but still threw batting practice, something hed like to continue doing next season, as long as his arm holds up. That is what chairman Tom Ricketts wanted the hands-on coaching Quade once did in Scranton, Pa., and West Michigan.
Its hard enough when you got a wife and two kids in your household, Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster said. Hes got 25 kids that hes got to take care of. Especially in a city where we havent won in so long, thats a lot to take on, but when it comes down to being prepared to be on the field, hes as good as anybody.
Quade gets that we have to sell newspapers and drive ratings and isnt afraid to say what everyone else already knows. Castro drifts in and out of focus. Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano are getting older in a game thats not getting any easier. You cant explain Carlos Zambrano and his moods or his performance.
Heading into Year 103, Quade is aware of the pressures and how the game has evolved since 1908. Even millionaires want to know what theyre supposed to do when they show up to the office.
Im honest, straightforward, Quade said. (You) rarely dont know what I mean. It doesnt mean you like it. It doesnt mean things always work. But at least you know where Im coming from. You can respect that.
Quade is a fisherman who thinks you should eat what you catch out of the Gulf of Mexico. Otherwise, it seems like a waste. Hes earned a good paycheck in Chicago, but still hadnt made that one huge financial score.
Moneyball was being reported while Quade was with the Oakland As. He couldnt believe it when he heard that the film adaptation of the best-selling book cast an actor with hair as the first-base coach. Alopecia areata caused this look. At the age of 53, he knows who he is.
Four years ago, the Triple-A Iowa manager interviewed for the job that went to Lou Piniella. The Cubs and Piniella were a foregone conclusion within the industry, but Hendry got the potential Hall of Fame manager to accept a new third-base coach. The reaction to the promotion was unforgettable.
God bless Mike Quade, Hendry said. I told him he was going to be on the big-league staff. He wanted to know why he wasnt considered stronger for the managers position.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.