Why Joe Maddon keeps helping the homeless, and other causes

October 31, 2019

By Marc Topkin | Tampa Bay Times

The new Angels manager, formerly with the Rays and Cubs, has a longstanding desire to help — and the platform to do so.


TAMPA — Joe and Jaye Maddon were back in their old neighborhood for the past week, getting reacquainted with the southern California scene they will again call home as he returns to his baseball roots in taking over as manager of the Angels.

They went over to the house they still own, and will again live in, in Long Beach. Stopped by his new place of employment in Anaheim. Checked out a few of their other favorite places.

But a drive through Huntington Beach, and specifically the Sunset Beach area, also stood out.

That was where Maddon, many years ago before he got his first manager’s job with the Rays in 2006, and before he went on to even greater success with the Cubs including the 2016 World Series championship, got a first-hand sense of the homeless problem in the country, and the desire to help, which he now does regularly, including Wednesday’s kickoff at Metropolitan Ministries to his annual Thanksmas campaign.

“Watching homeless people running their shopping cart worth of life up and down the beach … I was always negatively impressed, if that makes any sense, to watch all this occur, and how do you do something to help,” Maddon said. “So when we got here with the Rays (in his first manager’s job), I thought the soapbox got larger, and get on it.

“Jaye was a big mover and shaker with this because she insisted and brought it to my attention to become more adept within the charitable community, and so we did. And we’re at the point right now we’re here for Metropolitan Ministries and more.

“Listen, go check these (homeless) folks walking around at night, and sometimes stop and talk with them. Also, come into a building like this and watch the volunteers, what they do on a daily basis, it’s incredibly astronomical what they do daily. These are those kind of issues that are pushed to the side, that you don’t really want to get involved in.

“I’ve always said, every family, seriously, should at least volunteer one day a year. If everybody decided to do something like that, the impact would be so great. Just one day. I say that because I don’t get an involved as I’d like to, so my days are limited regarding this, but at least it’s talking about it and not doing anything. So that would be the challenge.”

Wednesday’s event, in which Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation served meals (from PDQ and Glory Days Grill) and provided backpacks (CITYPAK) and socks (DivvyUp) to about 200 adults and kids, was the first of seven in the Tampa Bay area. They have done events to help the homeless and other causes in Chicago; Mesa, Ariz.; his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.; and will do so now in southern California.

Though Maddon left the Rays after the 2014 season, he and Jaye still have a home and businesses in Tampa, and he said it still is important to him to help here, and credited “deft” foundation director Rick Vaughn for coordinating the campaign.

“We wanted to continue the Thanksmas tradition,” Maddon said. “It’s something when we had left several years ago talked about making sure to continue, and we are. And we’re back at the Metropolitan Ministries; we had been years ago and were really impressed with the facility and how it was run.”

Metropolitan Ministries president and CEO Tim Marks said they appreciated Maddon coming out, and also speaking out.

On a normal day, Metropolitan Ministries serves 100 families living on the Tampa campus plus 40 at other sites while producing 3,000 hot meals a day that are served elsewhere, Marks said, and the need increases in the holiday season.

“Joe coming and sharing of himself and getting to meet our families (helps), but it also creates a platform,” Marks said. “As we get into the holiday season, we’re getting ready to help 30,000 families that are at risk throughout Tampa Bay. It’s great that the Thanksmas initiative is starting here at Metro, but not stopping here. It’s going to many other non-profits throughout Tampa Bay and everywhere he goes he’s going to raise awareness for the important work that it is to help people that are hurting in our community.

“And that’s what I love about Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay gets it. I think Metropolitan Ministries is a testament to nothing good happens here without the community, and Joe is helping to raise awareness throughout the community.”

Former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon sits for a interview with Rays beat writer Marc Topkin before the start of his annual Joe Maddon’s Thanksmas at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, October 30, 2019. [OCTAVIO JONES | Tampa Bay Times]

Joe Maddon doing charity work, talking Rays, Cubs and more baseball

Wearing the bright red of his new/old Angels squad, Maddon shared thoughts on his former teams, the Trop and more.

TAMPA – The red T-shirt was a little bright, but Joe Maddon thought the color looked good on him.

Having signed on a couple weeks ago to return to his baseball roots in managing the Angels, Maddon was back in the Tampa Bay area to promote a cause he had long held close, helping the homeless.

Wednesday, that meant he and wife Jaye hosting a Thanksmas event to serve meals and provide backpacks and socks, to about 200 adults and children at Metropolitan Ministries through their Respect 90 Foundation, the 11th year they’d held similar events in the Tampa Bay area.

“To get back here and get Thanksmas rolling again is pretty cool,’’ said Maddon, 65.

Always thoughtful and gregarious, the former Rays and Cubs manager had plenty to say about baseball as well, praising former bench coach Dave Martinez’s work getting the Nationals to Game 7 of the World Series, and on other topics:

On signing with the Angels without talking to any other teams with openings:

“I wanted the Angels to know in advance when this all became ready that I would like to go there, and I also wanted the other teams to know I don’t want to interview unless this doesn’t work out because I thought it would be disingenuous to both sides. … I didn’t know how the end of the season with the Cubs was going to work out either. Everyone thinks they knew, but they didn’t, and I didn’t either. When it got down to the last couple days it was really obvious to both sides. I didn’t want to be back either. It was more of a bilateral than a unilateral decision.’’

On the Rays success this past season:

“When you have that kind of pitching you can take anybody to the limit. It’s hard to do what they do regarding the consistent bullpen machinations … and get it all the way through and get guys to be fresh enough to be that, but they took it as far as they could with a glut of good arms. They have some nice starters obviously, but primarily you’ve got to figure it out among the masses. The Rays are kind of the envy of the industry based on so many good arms with so much good stuff and they seem to be able to handle high leverage moments. … Nobody develops and executes pitching as well as they do, and that’s a big part of their success.’’

On plans for his Tampa-based restaurant (Ava) and home, given the new gig in California:

“Ava has been flourishing, and there’s one going up in Charlotte (N.C.) and we’re talking about putting one in Lakeland. … And we’re keeping the house. We’re still Florida residents.” (Jaye Maddon also will keep open her Tampa-based Epic fitness and boxing studio. Also, Maddon said he and his partners plan to keep open their recently opened restaurant in Chicago adjacent to Wrigley Field called Maddon’s Post, though said they are hoping business picks up. “I’ll put our food up against anybody’s,’’ he said.)

On the Rays’ ongoing quest for a new stadium:

“The Trop is not a major-league facility; it has nice air-conditioning. … If you want this team to prosper for the next 50 years or more, we need a new facility here, there’s no getting around it. … I’m not trying to dis on anybody. … You want to see it thrive, it’s not going to survive at the friggin’ Trop. You’ve got to put the ballpark on (the Tampa) side, close to the population where it’s easier to get to end of the work day. You’ve got to facilitate it. The Lightning put in 20,000 people a night, and with a tightly jammed parking lot. They play 41 games, so you double that down in a grand facility that has all the amenities, I believe fans in this area will support it. … The right ballpark in the right location with real baseball fans, which I think exist here, you’ll find the folks to show up.’’

On the Cubs hiring David Ross to replace him, and all the current talk of needed accountability:

“I love that David’s there. I spoke with him the night before his press conference and we had a great conversation. All these other semantics and descriptions, I don’t necessarily agree with all that. We’ll see how it all works out. But I’m really into David being really successful. I do want to play them in a World Series, because it would mean both sides are successful. And I want us to win the last game, which I think is only appropriate. … I love David, I think he’s going to do a great job actually, and I love a lot of the players there. I’ve got more thought- provoking, tear-provoking outreach from some (Cubs players) at the end of this season than I’ve ever gotten before.’’

On Chaim Bloom leaving the Rays to run the Red Sox:

“For Chaim, I think it’s going to be great. He’s going to have the opportunity to demonstrate all that he’s about. … I’ve always thought Chaimer probably had the most common sense in any room. He was able to drill through issues and really reduce them and I always appreciated that. We’d be sitting there talking about a bunch of stuff, there’d be a break, Chaimer would come back with the right answer. … He’s going to take a situation like Boston, he’s going to simplify it. He’s going to drive probably the same thing, pitching and defense. In a big market he’s probably going to utilize small market efficiencies. He’s going to be considered one of the best in the next couple years. I feel the same way about (Rays GM Erik Neander), I have a lot of faith in him, too. …. When I was here, I loved working with both of them. They were both ahead of their time.’’