Ever since the Rays’ magical season back in 2008, it became clear that skipper Joe Maddon was someone special. Since taking over the Rays’ head coaching spot in 2006, Maddon has emerged as one of baseball’s best managers. He helped turn a franchise around, transforming the Tampa Bay Rays from the league’s laughingstock into one of the most respected teams in baseball. His unconventional style of coaching baseball and his unique paths to success make Maddon one of Major League Baseball’s most interesting and colorful personalities. The guy is simply not your average Joe. Although baseball fans are pretty familiar with a lot of Maddon’s achievements throughout his career, there are some facts that are not well-known about Joe. Let’s take a look at five things you may of not known about Maddon.
Passion for Cycling-
Throughout his whole big league coaching career, cycling has been one of Maddon’s passions away from the game. Biking along the bay near his Tampa Bay home has been part of Maddon’s weekly routine, as well is his main source of exercise. Back two years ago, Maddon said he rode his bike anywhere from 60-100 miles per week. At 58-years-old, Maddon is committed to taking care of his body and staying in shape. Besides getting his needed exercise from his bike rides, Maddon also benefits mentally from cycling. He says it helps manage the stress of being a big league manager, and even helps him think of creative ideas. The “9=8” slogan, which Maddon made famous after clinching the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, was actually thought of during one of his bike rides.
Previous Coaching Experience and World Series Ring
Before joining the Rays as manager in 2005, Maddon did have some MLB coaching experience. In his final of 31 years serving the Angels’ organization, Maddon won a World Series Championship as the bench coach of the 2002 Anaheim Angels. Maddon learned a lot under current Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia during his years as a coach in Anaheim. Being one of baseball’s elite managers, Scioscia’s teachings have definitely been influential in Maddon’s success with the Rays. Besides Maddon’s 21st century experiences in Anaheim, Maddon had many years of coaching pro baseball before that. He managed Angels minor league clubs for six seasons, from 1981-1986. He also managed 51 games for the Angels at the Major League level during the 90’s, all as an interim. After leaving the Angels following the 2002 season, Maddon became a manager possibility for teams seeking a skipper. Before the 2004 season, Maddon was considered one of the leading candidates to get the managing job for the Boston Red Sox. The job went to Terry Francona instead, and Maddon signed with the Rays a year later.
Professional Playing Career-
Obviously, Joe Maddon will never be remembered for his brief career as a baseball player. His professional playing career was not much of a success story, which is why most people are not familiar with it at all. Maddon was signed by the California Angels as a free agent in 1975, after graduating from Lafayette College. He spent four seasons in the Angels’ minor league system as a catcher from 1976-1979, before becoming a scout and manager for the organization. He played for the Quad Cities Angels, the Salinas Angels, and the Santa Clara Padres. All three teams are Class-A clubs. Maddon’s career statistics include a career .267 batting average and no more than five home runs through 514 total at-bats. Maddon is one of only a few active Major League managers who have never played a game in the big leagues.
Not a lot happened for the Rays during the summer of 2007, but Maddon will always remember it for a different reason. When the Rays were on a road trip to Colorado four years ago, Joe Maddon became engaged. He proposed to his girlfriend Jaye Sousoures that June, who he would marry a year later. Maddon had his wedding in November of 2008, just a couple weeks after the conclusion of the Rays’ memorable pennant-winning season.
Besides putting his hard work into his baseball club, Maddon also does a lot for the community. Back in 2006, Maddon started an annual event called Thanksmas, in order to help the Tampa Bay area’s needy during the holiday season. Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Joe Maddon and a group of Rays employees prepare traditional meals for the homeless citizens of the Bay area. The main point of Thanksmas is to raise awareness for the growing homelessness issue in Tampa, as well as raising money for the Salvation Army charities. After six years of community service, Maddon has created one of the most effective charitable programs in the Tampa Bay area. This last Thanksmas was probably the most successful ever, as $4,000 in donations was given to each of the three Salvation Army centers near Tampa Bay.