New Los Angeles Angels Manager Joe Maddon and his Respect 90 Foundation helped bring a warm dinner to underserved individuals and families in Orange County Wednesday night as he aims to expand outreach to the homeless in Southern California.
Maddon, 65, is one of the most respected managers in baseball. He managed the Chicago Cubs when the franchise won its first World Series in over a century in 2016. He also spent nine seasons managing competitive Tampa Bay Rays teams, including the first Tampa Bay team to ever make it to a World Series in 2008.
But what many may not know about Maddon is that he has a heart for the homeless and desire to help those in need. It was a desire that was instilled in him from an early age.
“I grew up Catholic. I grew up in a parochial school. You don’t even realize sometimes all the impact that’s being made on you,” Maddon told The Christian Post in a phone interview. “Back then with the nuns specifically, we used to bring in money to raise and give to the poor children to buy food.”
“It’s just unfortunate that schools like that are less prominent than they had been,” he said of parochial institutions.
Maddon explained that his dad was known for watching charity advertisements on television, writing down the addresses and sending $5 or $10.
“So I think I get some of this from my pop,” he reasoned. “But when you grow up like I did — raised in a parochial school by nuns in a tightly traditioned town like Hazelton — it is something that becomes part of your fabric.”
Maddon’s signing with the Angels this offseason has brought him full-circle. He returns to the place where his motivation for working with the homeless was born before he ever became a big-league manager.
“It was born of me riding my bike up and down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) between Sunset Beach and Huntington and Newport, where I would see a lot of homeless folks pushing their lives in shopping carts,” Maddon explained. “That really bummed me out.”
As a coach for the Angels during the 1990s and 2000s, Maddon recalled how he would think about the possibility of what he could do with the big platform he’d have if he was ever given a full-time big-league managerial job.
That opportunity came in 2006, his first year as the manager of the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In 2006, Maddon’s “Thanksmas” events were born.
Thanksmas events, he said, are usually held around the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But some are held at other times during the year.
He said Thanksmas is centered around food. He opened up about how cooking and eating were central components of his upbringing in a Polish-Italian Catholic family.
“There was always this warm, comfortable feeling being there and there was a sense of security, belonging and family by sitting at the dinner table,” he explained. “So what better way to tell these folks that we care than by sharing your dinner with them.”
In Florida, Maddon said he and volunteers from the Rays organization would often cook food at Tropicana Field to distribute at Thanksmas events across the west coast of Florida.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith