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October 13, 2003

Jim Hendry


Q. Jack and Dusty were talking about the curse and the pressure and all these years. How do you keep this from sort of working its way into people's heads?

JIM HENDRY: Well, I really don't put much stock in it, to tell you the truth. I don't ever look back. Dusty and I have never talked about it. If we felt like this wasn't a place that we could win, I know he wouldn't be here and I probably would be gone by now, too. So we've never dwelled on it. From day one we thought we could win here. We haven't not won here in the last seven or eight years, since I've been here, because of any curse. We needed to build up the farm system and get our own players, do good in the draft. We needed to do good internally. And then everything else can fall in place. When you start to get better, you better have the right guy writing the lineup card managing people for 162 games, and we certainly have that. So I don't know what he said, but I would assume we have a similar answer. We're not really interested in the past.

Q. Jim, where would this club be if you hadn't made the move for the three guys you got from Pittsburgh? Would you be here? Dusty talked about it, but in your eyes?

JIM HENDRY: Well, I don't know. Obviously they've played so well, it would be probably depend on who else you got instead of them. We were going to get somebody, toward the end of July, beginning of August. Obviously these guys have done great. It's hard to imagine we could have gotten anybody better. And we didn't hurt ourselves too much for the future, and we also have the ability to have some of these guys or all of them around for a while, too. So everything happens for a reason. I remember trying to make a deal or two before we made those and it didn't work out. So it wasn't like everything went in place real easily. I remember one night Dusty saying, hey, just keep plugging, you're taking it too hard. We didn't make the deal we thought we were going to make. And a couple of days later we made the deal for Kenny and Aramis. And obviously that worked out well.

Q. When you drafted Mark Prior, the guy had big game potential written all over him. How much faith do you have?

JIM HENDRY: John Stockstill drafted Mark. But I think everyone in the room could have scouted him and gotten that one right (laughter). We've got a lot of faith in Mark. He's an amazing guy, he's a special guy for 23. He's a special guy off the field. And look how many big games we've been in the last couple of months just to get here. It seems like every time we needed a win badly, it would seem to be Mark's turn to pitch. And he certainly answered the bill every time. I know one thing, he's going to be ready to go 110 percent, and he'll give us his best shot, so hopefully he'll do that.

Q. Can you describe what it's like for you watching these games and how you react, and people around you? Is it difficult to watch these games? I know how competitive you are.

JIM HENDRY: Well, I just be myself. I'm not worried about who's around me. I look at it the same way when I used to be in the dugout, at a lot lesser level, obviously. That part of my background, coaching-wise, I'm into it, I'm intense about it. Obviously I want to win badly. But I care an awful lot about our people in our dugout, and

the players and the staff. Dusty and I have a terrific relationship going. So I put all the faith in him on running the game right and running the people right. But it's awful hard to watch, you know. I heard Woody say the other day it was harder for him watching than it was playing. Obviously I wasn't good enough to play like everybody else in our dugout, but it's hard to watch because you care so much. But I just handle it the way I do everything else. I'm Jim Hendry. I couldn't tell you how I act during the game, what I say or if I ever shut up, I don't know. But a lot of it's fun, and I know one thing, I'm awful tired about an hour after, when they're over.

Q. You touched on this before, but how much credit does Dusty deserve for the change in attitude and the change in culture? And has that change taken place more quickly than you expected?

JIM HENDRY: He deserves the majority of the credit. You can acquire players in the off-season or he can inherit players off of a very unsuccessful team from last year, and we had new players during the season, but he sets the tone on everything. It's 162 games plus the 7 weeks of Spring Training, plus games in postseason. And from the first day he stepped in the locker room in Spring Training, I think all the players knew it was different. They knew that it was going to be about winning from now on here. But besides that, he's had such a tremendous way with people. He's a manager of men as much as he is a baseball man. He's a straight-up guy, positive, really knows how to handle people the right way in a very sincere way. He deserves the majority of credit for all of that. We knew when we hired him he was a difference maker, and it's just our jobs to provide him with enough talent for him to mold into success.

Q. Are you surprised that the difference has happened so quickly?

JIM HENDRY: The difference in attitude happened right away. I wasn't surprised about that, that's why he's here, and that's why we wanted him so badly. Obviously in my job you don't sit there in October or November or December or even March and say, gee, we're going to be up three games to two and trying to get to the World Series. You just don't look at it like that. I knew we were better. I knew we made a lot of progress. I knew we had a great guy running the club. He's got a great coaching staff, very hard working bunch of guys that never gave up. We had a hundred chances to slack off and make excuses and look to next year. We never did that. Those guys were terrific. They kept the clubhouse positive. Guys that showed a lot of leadership qualities as players that maybe hadn't before, people that we didn't know before from other clubs were terrific. I knew we'd be better. I knew our attitude would be better. No one could predict the kind of success we've had in the last couple of months. But we knew if we could hang in there and get through July and August that we had a shot.

Q. You said that Dusty was the right guy for the job. Tell me some of his specific strengths that he's been able to showcase as the manager of this team.

JIM HENDRY: I don't know if I have all the time to give you all his strengths. For me, he's that good. He was a heck of a player in a classy way on the field. He's done the same thing running the club the last ten years. His preparation is admirable. I didn't know much about that before we hired him. We're not usually in the air five to ten minutes, from one game to the next, before he's getting ready for the next game. When you're around somebody all the time, you can pick out the winners from the nonwinners, and he's a real easy case. He's got the whole package. He knows how to treat people. He heads off problems before they happen. He's competitive. He doesn't want to lose any games. In this business the best team in the world is going to lose 60, 65 games, usually, by the time it's over. He don't want to give any of them away, and that's why over the long haul you're going to win your share with him. He treats people with respect, blunt, honest, doesn't have a bit of phoney in him. He's terrific. I said this last week: He's ten times a better guy than he is a manager, and he's a great manager.

Q. Not many people have bridged the gap between college baseball and Major League Baseball like you have. How different are the two cultures? And do you think Major League Baseball is missing out on a lot of good people in college baseball that could be doing this, too?

JIM HENDRY: I never stopped and looked at it like that. I felt fortunate when I left Creighton, and left college coaching, it wasn't something I planned all along, to get into professional baseball. The Marlins situation when I left Creighton was unique. I don't know if I would have been on the same path if I had gone with another club. In fact, at the time I never gave much thought about going into professional baseball when I was a college coach. I got a tremendous foundation in my entrance into professional baseball from Gary Hughes and Orrin Freeman, Dave Dombrowski, John Boles with the Marlins. They were so good to me, from my background, to put me in an organization that was just getting started. I think I got hired two months after Dave did. And we didn't play a game for 18 months. In those 18 months those guys included me in a lot of committees, expansion committees, a lot of scouting that I really didn't have any right being involved in, with my background. They were really terrific. I learned so much in those first couple of years that they gave me the feeling that I could possibly be successful at the professional level in what I wanted to do. But it wasn't an easy transition at first. You think you know a lot when you're doing okay with what you're doing, and a lot of it I had to start over and do a lot of grunt work, which, in hindsight, was very good for me. So it's something, if you want to try to make that transition and you've been successful as a college coach, then you better be able to check your ego in and get down and start over a little bit, too.

Q. Can you talk about the atmosphere around the park, in the neighborhood, around this city? It's so ready to celebrate. Can you talk about being the man in charge that really built that up? And should it happen tomorrow night, do the Cubs have plans for not letting things get too wild in the neighborhood?

JIM HENDRY: I'm sure a lot are making those plans, and Andy (MacPhail) and Mark (McGuire) are good enough not to include me in anything like that. I didn't pay much attention to the past, I mentioned it, but when you're around for a while, you know the people that cared the most, the fans, and all the people that worked here for years, obviously it's a huge thing. So we would like to change that and make them all happy. I don't think it really hit me how exciting or how good it could be until the day we clinched against the Pirates. Coming to work that day, as I said last week, none of us felt that was going to happen that day. We didn't expect Milwaukee to win again, and all of a sudden we had to sweep two, we were having a hard time even the week before beating Pittsburgh. When the final score went up from Houston, it was an entirely different feeling in that ballpark than I experienced before. And to have the day end like it did and have the day for Ron Santo the next day was unbelievable. To see the people in the ballpark for Ron, like two hours before the ceremony, was unbelievable. I think I got a sense that day that it was even a little greater, a little deeper than I had given it credit for.

Q. Considering all that, as you said repeatedly, you're not worried about the curse, you're not worried about the goat, you know the fans are and they're still really worried about 1984.

JIM HENDRY: You know what? I don't think the 35 people in the dugout are worried about it. And they're the only ones that can get the job done tomorrow night. Jim Hendry can't help win the ballgame. Nobody in the seats individually could. Collectively I hope they give us a lot of support, but the guys in the dugout have to win the ballgame. And I can honestly tell you they fought through so many negatives to get where we're at, I don't think they're worried about any curse, honestly, or what hasn't happened in how many years it's been.

Q. In light of the question she asked about the fans tomorrow, do you have additional security in place for tomorrow, in the event you do win tomorrow?

JIM HENDRY: I'm sure we will. Honestly, I have nothing to do with that. But Mark McGuire and Mike Hill and all the people that are in charge do.

Q. As a follow-up to the Ron Santo issue, have you talked to Ron recently?

JIM HENDRY: No, I'm going to talk to Ronnie. Obviously he's been such a special guy that what he's going through and what he has gone through is a horrible thing. But I've been traveling with the club now for a little over two years, and I've never seen anybody quite like this guy. The passion and the care that he brings, Ron Santo lives and dies every pitch, and when the game is over he can't wait to get to the next game. He's an incredible man. And I think there's a lot of people that are playing in that dugout that have already shown all you people and the fans how much they care about Ronnie. And it's no accident what Matt Clement said after the ballgame, it's no show that Ron Santo's jersey is in that dugout, that's how much they think of him. He doesn't leave our mind too often. You get frustrated at times like this, we feel like we can't do anything for him, except win some more ballgames.

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