The Cubs announced Tuesday they will keep Quade as manager, signing him to a two-year contract with a club option for a third year, and reward him after he steered the team to a 24-13 record in a six-week tryout.
"He earned the job," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said of Quade.
Quade was relaxing in Bradenton, Fla., after a day of fishing and crabbing when he got the call. He had to figure out what to do with his fresh catch and then had to find a suit for the news conference at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
He used to attend games at Wrigley Field as a kid and is well aware of the team's long drought, having not won a World Series since 1908. Quade revived a refrain Dusty Baker used: Why not the Cubs?
"I live here, I was raised here, I get it," Quade said of the 100-plus years without a championship. "You're totally aware of it. It's not going to do us any good as a ballclub or me as a manager or as a person to have that anywhere near my thoughts on a daily basis. I think we understand how we need to win baseball games and I think the less said about that during our work and during the games, the better."
He was picked over Ryne Sandberg, which will upset more than a few Cubs fans who wanted the Hall of Fame second baseman back at Wrigley Field and in the dugout. Sandberg, 51, has spent the last four years managing in the Cubs' Minor League system, including this past season at Triple-A Iowa, which he led to an 82-62 record.
Sandberg had talked to Hendry about the big league job after the 2006 season, but was told he needed experience. He did what the Cubs asked; what Sandberg will do now is to be determined. Quade was to meet with Hendry and assistant general manager Randy Bush Wednesday to discuss their coaching staff. Sandberg would like the chance to manage in the big leagues.
"I still have the ambition to do this at the Major League level," Sandberg said. "After some digesting [of the news] and seeing if other opportunities come about, I'll listen to those opportunities and take it from there."
Eric Wedge, named the Mariners manager Monday, also was a finalist for the Cubs job and met with chairman Tom Ricketts. Hendry did talk to other candidates, including former Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin, but Ricketts only met with Quade, Sandberg and Wedge.
Ricketts had three requisites, saying they first "wanted a manager who wanted to be a coach." Second, they wanted someone who knew what it meant to be a Cub. Quade grew up in the Chicago area, managed the Triple-A team from 2003-06, and was on the big league coaching staff for the last four years. Third, Ricketts said they were looking for someone committed to the organization for the long run. Quade qualified.
"In the end, I would say, the simplest way to put it is we believe Mike can coach, manage and win with the Chicago Cubs," Ricketts said.
Ricketts left the final decision to Hendry, who gave Baker a four-year contract, starting in 2003, and hired Lou Piniella in October 2006.
Quade, 53, took over for Piniella on Aug. 23 and is the fifth Cubs manager to post a .600 or better winning percentage as a mid-season replacement. Whitey Lockman did so in 1972 after replacing Leo Durocher, guiding the Cubs to a 39-26 mark. Others to accomplish the feat include Frank Chance in 1905 (55-33); Charlie Grimm in 1932 (37-18); and Gabby Hartnett in 1938 (44-27). Quade made a point of thanking Piniella for hiring him.
The Cubs won eight of their 12 series in the six weeks under Quade. They won 11 series in the 4 1/2 months under Piniella, who retired early to return home to Tampa, Fla., and take care of family matters, including his ill mother.
It was an impressive turnaround for a team that had gone 8-21 from the All-Star break until Aug. 22, which was Piniella's last game. The Cubs finished fifth in the National League Central at 75-87.
"I'm smart enough to know six weeks doesn't make a season," Quade said.
Chicago is home for Quade. He was born in suburban Evanston, which is an easy train ride from Wrigley Field. The 2010 season was his fourth as the team's third base coach. He had spent four seasons prior to joining Piniella's staff as the Cubs' Triple-A manager, finishing first in 2004 and '06.
Known as "Q," he is the sixth Cubs manager born in Illinois, joining Albert Spalding, Hank O'Day, Phil Cavarretta, Lou Boudreau and Jim Marshall.
The Cubs faced playoff contenders such as Cincinnati, St. Louis, San Francisco and San Diego during his very public audition. Now, he's a hero to baseball people who have spent years in the game, waiting for that chance. Quade was looking forward to the organization meetings in early November. He's worked every level.
"To get this opportunity in this market, there's no question it's different," Quade said. "Some of my favorite phone calls and texts have been from those lifers. You know what? They're thrilled for me. Whether it gives them hope or not, they're like I am, they love what they do. They'll manage in Double-A or Triple-A and they'll do it well. That's the rallying point to me that I feel I can make and ask from the rest of this organization in a week [at the meetings] to help."
During the six weeks Quade was in charge, he didn't contribute much to the manager's office at Wrigley except for a photo of his dog. Don't expect much more.
"It's not like, 'OK, you've arrived,'" Quade said. "You've got to prove it every day."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.