Quoting Mike Quade
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Since he joined the Chicago Cubs organization in 2003, current interim manager Mike Quade has been one of the more colorful personalities to grace the Cubs clubhouse.
He’s always available to help you with a quote or be part of a photo shoot. He helped Sam Fuld teach a young girl with Type 1 diabetes to catch fly balls; he’s thrown batting practice to countless fan clinics.
I remember distinctly watching him in the clubhouse in 2008 shortly after the Cubs clinched the NL Central Division, cursing at former Cub Mike Fontenot after the diminutive second baseman poured a bottle of champagne over Quade’s bald head.
“Oh, am I going to get you, you little Cajun [expletive],” Quade yelled as he wiped the bubbly from his eyes.
An admitted “foodie”, Quade shared his love of fine dining, talking about his gastronomic experiences at such high-end establishments as The French Laundry in San Francisco, and the more Chicago-centric Le Francais in Wheeling, Ill. Now residing in Bradenton, Fla., Quade loves his seafood.
He also showed readers how to hit and throw a Chicago-style 16-inch softball. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, it was a game with which Quade had intimate knowledge.
Here are some of the more colorful quotes from Quade over the years:
On how he got his fancy taste buds:
“[When I turned 12], my parents took me to the Drake Hotel’s Old Cape Cod Room. It was delicious. It was my first fine dining experience.”
On his love for cooking:“I can grill a steak. I can bake a potato. But the real challenge is trying to do some creative things in my own kitchen. I enjoy copying the chefs. I spend a lot of time watching the Food Network. I watch [chefs] on TV and talk to them at the restaurants, and I find myself asking ‘how do I prepare that?'”
“These chefs are just innovative as hell. I’m fascinated by the chef’s preparation. There’s a lot of knowledge that goes into putting together a meal like that. But the also try to make the experience as enjoyable for you. So if there’s something you want, they might just do it.”
On fine dining service:
“In baseball, you talk about instinct, like if a guy knows to hold up at third or throw to second or whatever. Servers have instinct, too. They see you’re glass isn’t full, or you’re done with your plate, they immediately fill the glass and remove the dish. You pay a lot of money in these places, so you expect the servers to be attentive.” (Photos courtesy of Drake Hotel)
On asking about fine dining on the road:
“You know, I’d always ask people where can I get some really high-end seafood, and people would always refer me to Red Lobster or some Fisherman’s Wharf tourist hellhole. I don’t know if I just didn’t know the right circle of people who knew these kinds of places, but yeah, I was a little disappointed.”
On the art of playing 16″ softball:
“All you need is a bat and a ball and go have some fun. I’ve seen the coed games, but these tournaments the guys play in, they’re playing for keeps. And there’s an art to it that only the guys who play it day in, day out can do. I mean, we’re sitting here trying to see how far we can hit it, but hits like that [points to a long fly ball] are pretty, they’re really outs. Just like with our game, you value the line drive.”
Growing up around 16″ softball:
“I’m telling you, I was around it a lot, because every park near my house in Evanston had a game going on. Then especially in the summer when this game is really big, there was always summer baseball right after your school season just ended. By the time summer baseball was over, it was too cold to play softball.”
Why he didn’t play a lot of 16″ softball:
“Everybody’s finicky, but there’s no one more finicky than baseball players and their swings. But I didn’t really play a whole lot because as a hardball guy, you didn’t want anything to affect your swing.”
Why 16″ softball symbolizes Chicago:
“It always struck me how fitting this game was for Chicago. It’s a blue-collar town, where people brought their lunchpails to work and perhaps didn’t have money to buy a glove. So they came up with a game that anyone could play, just with a bat and a ball.”