Cubs manager's Canadian connection

Cubs manager Mike Quade (left) congratulates shortstop Starlin Castro after a win over the White...

Cubs manager Mike Quade (left) congratulates shortstop Starlin Castro after a win over the White Sox last week. Quade previously managed minor league teams in Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver. (JONATHAN DANIEL/Getty Images/AFP)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:57 PM ET

CHICAGO - Mike Quade (KWAH-dee) had it made amongst the ivy last Oct. 19 when he was hired to manage the Chicago Cubs.

General manager Jim Hendry chose baseball lifer Quade over Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg to guide the team.

Quade, who first put on a pro uniform at class-A Salem in 1979, managed and coached in the minors for 25 years, including managing the first-year 1993 Ottawa Lynx. He also served as a coach with the Oakland A’s and the Cubs for seven years.

Yet, there was a another day in Ottawa when Quade felt he’d made it. Montreal Expos manager Felipe Alou and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan sent lefty Chris Nabholz to Ottawa on a rehab assignment with instructions for him to throw 80 pitches.

“Now, you have to remember this was the first year Ottawa had a triple-A team since 1954,” Quade said of Nabholz’s start against the Richmond Braves, which had some boppers like Chipper Jones, Ryan Klesko, Brian Hunter, Javy Lopez, Tyler Houston, Tony Tarasco and Jerry Willard.

“So, after six innings Nabholz has thrown 68 pitches and he’s got a no-hitter going,” the manager said, remembering the memorable night in Ottawa as he leaned against the dugout at Wrigley Field.

“After seven ... still no hits and he’s at about 80 pitches. So, what do I do? I let him go out there again. He pitches at hitless eighth and he’s at about 88.”

Now what?

“I take him out, bring in my closer,” Quade said.

His closer was Bruce Walton, who grew up to be the Blue Jays pitching coach, and never had Walton, who pitched in 418 games in the minors and another 27 in the majors — or Quade for that matter — been booed so loudly.

“It was a sold out crowd almost every other night,” said Quade, now pacing. “And almost everyone in the seats thought I’d messed up taking out a guy with a no-hitter, but I had orders ... I even went past the 80 pitches. Man they were upset. They were booing. My mistake when I spoke to Felipe was that I didn’t ask ‘what if he has a no-hitter going?’

“They (fans) weren’t aware of the pitch count restrictions," Walton recalls the night.

“Usually, when you go in you’re trying to get outs, doesn’t matter if they get a base hit,” Walton said. “I was pitching so not to give up a hit. For sure there was extra weight.”

Walton set down the Richmond hitters to combine with Nabholz on the no-hit win. Three or four days later it’s election time.

“A political guy is writing about apathy leading up to the election, what a bad way it was for Canadians to be and he wrote, ‘much like the Lynx manager, who took out his pitcher when he didn’t even know his guy had a no-hitter going,” Quade said. “A couple of guys from upstairs came in and said ‘you’ve made it ... you’re off the sports pages and onto the political scene.’

“Let me tell you any time a big-leaguer came down on a re-hab start after that they’d tell me X amount of pitches, and I’d ask ‘what if he has a no hitter?’ You know what? Every time the answer was the same: ‘Get him out of there.’”

As a young pup Todd Stottlemyre used to get angry. Angry with himself. Angry with Dave Parker strutting after a home run or with the umps.

Once we asked him the angriest he’d ever been.

“Easy, second game of a doubleheader at Syracuse in 1988, they had me on a pitch count of 100, I had two out ... one to go, and (manager Bob Bailor) came out and took me out,” Stottlemyre said.

The Cubs manager is the seventh Ottawa manager to go on to run a major-league team. Two others, Billy Gardner and George Bamberger, were with the 1951 Ottawa Giants and went on to manage in the majors.

Quade had managed teams in cities with new franchises before during his 17 years and 2,378 games in the minors, going 1,213-1,165.

He was aware there would be a honeymoon period, but never envisioned how much Ottawa would fall in love with the Lynx, when the Lynx owner Howard Darwin brought baseball back to the capital.

Darwin pursued a team for years and wanted to be affiliated with the Expos, but didn’t get anywhere. Finally, at the winter meetings in Atlanta he was able to meet face-to-face with owner Charles Bronfman. While the first group of Expos officials Darwin spoke with thought his team would hurt Olympic Stadium attendance, Bronfman thought it would be good marketing: Ottawa Valley fans could watch a shortstop or right fielder develop and then make the two-hour drive down the road to see the player as a major leaguer.

“I knew there would be a honeymoon, but I didn’t expect anything like that,” Quade said. “We were at capacity every night, 10,332, give or take four or five people.”

Ottawa drew an IL record 693,043 fans for the season. It was a record which stood until the 1998 Buffalo Bisons drew 768,849. The Lynx sold out 43 of 71 home dates with roughly 862 unsold tickets per night. The Lynx lost three games to weather.

One such cancellation gave Quade what he called “so much respect for the hearty Canadians.”

It was an April home game that first year with temperatures below freezing, an icy rain making the infield like a skating rink and the backstop covered in ice.

“I’m talking to the umpire and it’s obvious we can’t play, we must have had 3,000-4,000 people booing,” Quade said.

The Lynx finished second and was eliminated by the first-place Rochester Red Wings in post-season play.

“It was a great experience, we played OK the second half,” said Quade, who benefitted from the arrival of Rondell White, Cliff Floyd and Curtis Pride from double-A Harrisburg, managed by Jim Tracy. In 1999, Quade led the Vancouver Canadians to the PCL title and in 1998 he managed the Edmonton Trappers.

“I’ve managed in three diverse Canadian cities,” he said. “Edmonton reminded me of Nebraska. Vancouver was a completely different city, we played at Nat Bailey Stadium. And Ottawa was the capital of the whole country, I love politics. Calgary was a city I loved to visit.”

In Ottawa the manager would sometimes go to a blues club with pitching coach Mike Parrott. At the end of the season Quade was fired: “(Expos GM) Dan Duquette and I had a difference of opinion.”

He did return to Ottawa, managing the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons in 1994-95.

Quade didn’t have major-league managing experience when he took over the Cubs the final six weeks after Lou Piniella resigned.

Taking over a team that had lost 20 of its previous 25 games, Quade went 24-13 to close out 2010.

It would have been easy for Hendry to hire Sandberg, the people’s choice, whose uniform No. 23 has been retired and hangs over Wrigley.

He now manages triple-A LeHigh Valley and could be the heir to manager Charlie Manuel’s job with the Phillies.

The Cubs may or may not have been a sub .500 club as they are today, and Hendry would be the hero.

Instead the Cubs chose Quade.

“It’s not my nature (to dwell on the negative),” Quade told reportersMonday before the Cubs humbled the Colorado Rockies.“There are certain things you have to employ to deal with it. You haveto recognize them. Someone texted me with a Winston Churchill quote — ‘if you’re going through hell, keep going.’

“I like that. It’s short and sweet. I’d like to think we have a chance to walk out of hell in the second half.’’


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