Sunday, July 19, 2015

Interview Part 1: Mike Quade, Career Map

Former Cubs manager Mike Quade in his office at Rochester's Frontier Field in July 2015.
Part 1: Career Map | Part 2: Bigger Journey
Part 3: Own Advice

ROCHESTER, NY - When Mike Quade was named manager of the Chicago Cubs in 2010, he recalled one of the news organizations putting together a map of all the stops he made along the way.

But, looking at that map, Quade recalled, even he was a little taken aback at just how many places he'd been over his three decades in the game.

 "I'm not nostalgic," the former Cubs skipper recalled recently to The Greatest 21 Days. "I don't have memorabilia, but I said I've got to get that framed, that's pretty cool."

His stint leading the Cubs ended just over a year after it began. His career, though, hasn't.

He got back into the game in 2014 as a roving instructor in the Yankess organization. For 2015, the 58-year-old is back in the manager's office. The Twins brought him in as manager of their AAA club at Rochester.

"Now I can add to it," Quade said of that map. "That's even better."

Quade spoke to The Greatest 21 Days before a recent game at Rochester's Frontier Field. His Red Wings were preparing to take on Philadelphia's AAA club, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

He covered his career in baseball from its earliest stages as he grew up outside of Chicago on to the pros as both a player and manager.
Rochester manager Mike Quade, right, with outfielder Danny Ortiz during batting practice at Frontier Field in July 2015. (Greatest 21 Days)
He also talked of first arriving in the majors in 2000 as a coach for the Athletics, 20 years after his career began and how he learned in 2010 that the Cubs were promoting him from major league third base coach to major league manager.

Regarding his long career's latest stop, the one for 2015, Quade said his club has made his return easier.

"I've had some really good clubs over the years that have been similar to this," Quade said of his AAA Twins club, "but none better. So, for me to get involved in this again and get to manage this group of guys, it's just been a pleasure, it really has."

Quade's long involvement in baseball began as he grew up in Chicago's northwest suburbs. His family, he recalled, was a somewhat divided one: His father, a Missouri native, was a Cardinals fan; his mother adopted the Cubs.

He recalled naturally gravitating toward baseball. His dad helped him, but it was never pressured. His two brothers also played sports. One wrestled and played some basketball, his youngest brother played basketball and baseball.

Quade recalled playing three sports himself, baseball, basketball and football. Some of his earliest memories involved baseball, playing Wiffle ball or playing catch.

"I just loved the physical activity," Quade said. "I liked all sports. I probably, honestly, preferred basketball, but I was best suited for baseball athletically."

After graduating from Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, Ill., Quade went on to the University of New Orleans. He played well enough in college to catch the attention of some scouts.
Rochester manager Mike Quade at third with shortstop Doug Bernier at Frontier Field in July 2015. (Greatest 21 Days)
He'd heard he wasn't going to be a high pick but he was going to be picked.

"I knew there were several organizations that were going to take me in the mid-to-late rounds and that I would get the opportunity," Quade said, "and that's all I really wanted."

By that time, his parents had moved to Upstate New York, near Watertown. He recalled driving there from New Orleans just before the draft. He was home for a day, then he got a call from the Pirates. It was scout Lenny Yochim.

Yochim told Quade he'd been drafted in the 22nd round. He also told him his first destination on the map would be Salem, Va., in the single-A Carolina League. The question was, when could he be there?

Quade responded that he'd just gotten home. Maybe he could be there in two or three days? Yochim, Quade recalled, suggested tomorrow. There was an opportunity to play center field right then.

Quade's father settled things.

"My dad says, 'get in the car and get out of here,'" Quade said. "So I did. The next day I wsa in Salem and was in the lineup."

Quade recalled never really making a good transition to the pros. He never really developed as a hitter. What he was, though, was always a student of the game, whatever game he played. He said often players with less talent, like himself, fall into that category.

"You tend to pay more attention," Quade said. "You've got to find ways to - you stay away from the word 'cheat' - but you're trying to do everything. You're trying to get every edge you can."
Rochester manager Mike Quade throwing batting practice at Frontier Field in July 2015. (Greatest 21 Days)
One edge he had that some don't get is coaching. He recalled having great coaches from his youngest days. While they couldn't help him as a player, he credits them as being responsible for the career he later turned to, managing and coaching.

Quade hit .270 that first year at Salem, 1979. He played outfield the entire season. He then returned to Salem for 1980, hitting .279 that year. He made AA Buffalo for part of 1981, then returned to single-A at Alexandria for 1981.

It was around that time that Pirates official Murray Cook came to town. He had some advice for Quade.

Quade, he was told by Cook, should pay attention to what's going on around him. That's because Quade might have a future as a coach or as a manager. Quade recalled his own response was swift.

"I basically told him to go to hell. I'm not done playing," Quade said, "and a year and a half later he was correct."

Quade recalled knowing his playing days were done when he realized he was then much older than some of his teammates. He'd also been serving basically as a fill-in for others. He could continue to play in A-ball or he could start his coaching career.

He chose the coaching career.

"The Pirates gave me an opportunity and then the six or seven other organizations that I've been with," Quade said. "Really, I've been very lucky to ride that train and wind up at the major league level as a coach and manager is something special."

The first stop on that managerial train - and the first managerial stop on Quade's map - was Macon, Ga. It was there, Quade recalled, where he learned important early lessons. (Go to Part 2)

Part 1: Career Map | Part 2: Bigger Journey
Part 3: Own Advice

Go to Part 2: Mike Quade, Bigger Journey

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