On the Farm with the Manager of Lake Elsinore Storm – Jamie Quirk
Coming out of high school, Jamie Quirk had a big decision to make. Should he sign with the Kansas City Royals, who drafted him with the 18th pick in the first round, or should he attend Notre Dame on a football scholarship with the chance to become a quarterback with the Fighting Irish? Jamie chose baseball and it appears to have been the right decision.
Quirk spent 18 years in the majors with the Royals (on 3 different occasions) Brewers, Cardinals, White Sox, Indians, Orioles, Yankees, and Athletics. This afforded him the opportunity to play under several great managers including Whitey Herzog and Tony LaRussa. Jamie’s best years were at the end of his career when he was playing in Oakland where he hit .281 in 1990 and .261 in 1991 before retiring after the 1992 season when his average dropped to .220.
After his playing career ended, Quirk started his coaching career working his way up to the majors under Clint Hurdle, Brad Mills, and Dale Sveum. After Sveum was fired by the Chicago Cubs, the Padres reached out to Jamie and hired him to manage the Lake Elsinore Storm of the A+ Cal League.
On our first visit to Lake Elsinore this season, we noticed that Jamie was running things in a much different manner. Warm-ups were very structured with the players all running a series of drills on the field. We were impressed with what we saw and we wanted to talk to Jamie about his career in the Major Leagues and his goals as a manager. Jamie was gracious enough to take time to talk to us during our next visit to The Diamond.
Padres360: What are your earliest memories of baseball?
Jamie: Oh, I can remember my earliest is probably as six years old. I had two older brothers. My dad was the coach for their little league team. And I would just go along and be the bat boy. And one Saturday at the little league game, two kids didn’t show up. And my dad said, “Go play.” And I was playing with the older boys and that was really my first recollection of organized playing. And I’ve been playing ever since.
Padres360: That’s awesome.
Padres360: Who did you grow up watching as a player? Who did you really admire as a kid and as a teenager before you got drafted?
Jamie: Mickey Mantle. No doubt, Mickey Mantle was my favorite player of all time.
Padres360: What do you like about Mickey?
Jamie: You know, the Yankees were great. He just was the all-American guy. I just loved everything he did. He had power and speed. He actually started as an infielder. People don’t remember that.
Padres360: Shortstop I think…
Jamie: And got moved to the outfield. But you know, I was just always a Mickey Mantle fan.
Padres360: In all your years as a Major League player, who was the best player you ever physically saw play?
Jamie: Well, I’d have to say upfront and close, George Brett. He’s in the Hall of Fame and I was a teammate of his for 13 years. And so, I can say I saw a lot of Hall of Famers in my era, a lot of guys that are there and faced them and played against them. But I was upfront and close to George for 13 years. So, I can’t say anybody but him.
Wayne: So, as your playing career winded down, when did you know that you wanted to get into coaching?
Jamie: Probably the last few years of my career. I played ‘til I was 38 and I finished my career in Oakland. I was playing for Tony La Russa and we had talked a little bit about coaching. I found myself doing a little bit of coaching late in my career with the younger players so I knew probably the last two or three years of my career that that was the path I wanted to go.
Wayne: Outside of Tony La Russa, do you have any other managers you really looked up to or were a heavy influence?
Jamie: Whitey Herzog was my very first manager.
Padres360: Ah, the White Rat….
Jamie: Tony was my last. So, I have a lot in between. But those two, my first and my last, were probably my favorite. And both totally different, but learned a lot from both of them in a lot of different ways.
Padres360: How would you describe your style of leadership?
Jamie: I only speak when I got something to say. I don’t want to wear things out. I watch. I don’t miss anything. I’m not one to let things go. If I see something I don’t like, or that I don’t think is right, I’m going to address it now. I don’t like to let things build up and see if he’s going to get it right. I make sure we get it right. I’m not a big meeting guy, but like I said when I have one, they know that there’s a reason for it.
Padres360: One thing we noticed when we first came here about a month ago is you had the guys running drills early, running cones. And there was a big difference what we saw in the culture. What’s something you’ve come here with the idea that you want to do?
Jamie: Teach them how to play the game the right way. Work ethic, there’s no shortcuts. You come every day, work hard, expect to play well, expect to play the game the right way, and if you do that daily, good things will happen. But my biggest goal coming into this was to teach them how to play the game and their work ethic the right way.
Padres360: The team’s doing really well so far. Have you got hopes for the season and how you guys are going to do?
Jamie: Well, the team is doing well. You’re only as good as your players. We’ve got players. We’ve lost a couple to AA but a couple of guys came up and stepped up. They’ve gotten their chance and it’s been great. But you want to teach winning. Winning I believe is very important. It goes right along with development. But that’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is teach them how to play the game the right way. But if you do that, I think winning falls right into place with it.
Padres360: Yeah, because the A level, you’re really looking to develop them, right?
Jamie: Yeah. It’s a mindset.
Padres360: As a manager, your goal is to get them promoted really.
Jamie: Oh yeah. That’s our goal, is to get these kids to the next level and where it takes them from there, great. But I really believe though, if you do those things you will win games along with it.
Padres360: Thank you so much for your time, Jamie.
Jamie: You’re welcome.