CHICAGO (CBS) — “I go back to Don Zimmer, Jim Lefebvre, Don Baylor, Dusty Baker.”
Thirteen managers, seven general managers and five team presidents; Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode has outlasted them all.
In his 30th season with the Cubs, he’s the longest-tenured coach in the organization.
“We won’t say that too loud. I never thought it would be 30 years. I just try to come out and do my job,” Strode said.
Strode credits his longevity to the “3 P’s” — positivity, perseverance, and passion — as well as keeping up with the changes with the game.
“Today, it has changed, you are a pitching coach in the bullpen now. You have to watch the guys as far as them getting ready. If they are mechanically off you have to give them hints to get back on track and information who they may be facing,” he said.
Strode has worked with hundreds of pitchers, and he’s been more than just a coach to many of them – often a father figure.
“It’s just not about baseball, it’s about life in general. So when guys are having their issues off the field and want to know my opinion, I give it to them,” he said.
So did he ever think he would win a World Series after so many grim years?
“That why I was here for 30 years; to win the World Series! It’s been a blessing to be in this organization, seeing it’s progress over the years and to win a championship it made it all worth the while,” Strode said.
Now Strode has the ring, so what keeps him going?
“I love the game. I have a passion for it. I hope I can do it for the rest of my life,” he said.