The Tampa Bay Rays’ Joe Maddon is one of the most respected managers in Major League Baseball. He’s relaxed in the clubhouse, good for the players, and he is a solid manager who not only knows the game, but how to deal with people. His working class roots have given him unique insight into life and baseball.
Maddon is the son of a plumber and grew up in an apartment over his father’s shop in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. Hazelton is a blue-collar town in northeastern PA of a little over 25,000 people. Maddon returned there in 2011 to launch his Hazelton Integration Project. HIP is an initiative to build bridges between the older white working class population and the younger ever growing Hispanic population.
His working class roots run deep, and that has translated into his approach to MLB. Maddon never played above the minor leagues, and never really had huge success as a manager before the Rays. He was in the Los Angeles Angels system for over thirty years and ended his tenure with the Angels as the bench coach.
The Rays gave Maddon his first full-time managing position in the majors, and he has done well with the opportunity. He started with a team that had spent three years with the ever volatile and unpredictable Lou Piniella. The reputation of the franchise, and Piniella’s constant criticism of the front office, made the Rays a dysfunctional environment.
Maddon’s calming influence, down to earth respect of players, and personable approach to life has turned the Rays into a highly respected organization. Maddon has led the Rays to win the American League Pennant in 2008 and their first trip to the World Series. The Rays have made the playoffs 3 of the last 5 years, and 90 plus win seasons 4 out of 5 years.
Whether it’s the signature glasses, or the managerial people skills, Maddon has proven himself to be one of the best in MLB. His working class roots made him and most of us what we are today. That’s why we like him so much.