CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Cubs have named former catcher David Ross as their new manager, hoping to lead the team back to the playoffs, after helping them win their first World Series title in 108 years in 2016.
The Cubs announced the move Thursday, saying they’d signed Ross to a three-year deal to manage the team through 2022, with a club option for 2023.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 24, 2019
Ross, 42, replaces World Series-winning manager Joe Maddon, whose contract was not renewed after the Cubs missed the postseason this year, the first time they didn’t make the playoffs since 2014.
Ross played for the Cubs for two seasons, helping lead them to the World Series title in 2016, hitting a home run in the decisive 8-7 win in Game 7. Fans remember the scene of “Grandpa Rossy” on the shoulders of players after the Cubs won the World Series.
“We’re thrilled to name David Ross as the 55th manager in franchise history,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a statement. “David is as gifted a leader as I’ve ever come across, and I expect him to become a great manager.”
Epstein praised Ross for having a “high baseball IQ” and his ability to cultivate a winning culture.
While Epstein said Ross’ connection to many of the current players on the roster could be seen as assets, he insisted they were not factors in the decision to hire the former catcher.
“He earned the job on the merits, and he will move the team forward in a new and different direction. We are excited to hire David as our manager and look forward to working together to foster a winning culture and build the next Cubs championship team.”
Ross said his relationships with teammates from his time as a Cubs catcher in 2015 and 2016 would be a bonus.
“Those guys know I’ll be the first to hold them accountable, the first to demand their best daily effort, and the first to let them know about it if they give anything but their best. I never had any problem dishing out a lot of tough love as their teammate, and that won’t change as their manager,” Ross said in a statement.
As CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke reported, it was clear that Ross had a special relationship with the Cubs even before the 2016 championship.
Ross is known for his inspirational leadership skills. He also has close relationships with current players, including Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, and Jon Lester.
It remains to be seen how Ross will handle those relationships now that he’s the boss, but holding players accountable is a factor that Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein stressed he wanted in the team’s next manager.
Ross has spent the last three years as a baseball TV analyst, and has also written a book and appeared on “Dancing with the Stars.” Fans are hoping he’s saved his best moves for his next gig.