From urging him to stay in school to getting police escort to World Series, Beanie always there for Cubs manager
CHICAGO — When Beanie Maddon watches her son, Joe, and the Cubs, she does so at her apartment in Hazleton, Pa.
“I’m by myself in the dark. I watch it,” Maddon’s 84-year-old mother said. “I don’t want to be bothered with anybody. I say what I want to say. I go through the game my way.”
Does Beanie sound feisty? She is.
“If I don’t like what [the Cubs] are doing and I want to change the channel, I can do it,” Beanie said. “I go back and forth. It makes me nervous.”
Beanie hasn’t had to change the channel too often since her son took over as the Cubs’ manager in 2015. What about last Sunday’s game, when Chicago and the Yankees played 18 innings in a six-hour, five-minute contest?
“Two o’clock in the morning, I was still watching,” Beanie said. “I couldn’t fall asleep.”
On Mother’s Day, when you toast your mom, take a moment to salute Beanie Maddon, who is tough and sentimental, who can cook a great Italian meal and who is proud of her three children, including Joe. Beanie may be the only big league manager’s mom who got a police escort from the airport to a World Series game.
“My two grandchildren were with me — we laughed all the way to the park,” Beanie said of riding in an umarked SUV with its lights flashing from O’Hare International Airport to Wrigley Field for Game 3 last October. “We got off the plane, and they took us through the airport. Then the waters were parted. We had fun. It was something. He put the siren on and everything.”
If Beanie frets while watching the Cubs and Yankees in May, how did she feel last fall during the World Series?
“Oh, golly, yeah [I was nervous],” Beanie said. “I knew he was going to do it. He does a good job.”
In 2002, when Joe was on the Angels’ coaching staff and they reached the World Series, Beanie did try to get some divine intervention. Her husband and Joe’s father, Joe Sr., passed away in April of that year.
“We had the cemetery decorated [with Angels gear] for everything,” she said. “It was so pretty. That’s why we won. We swear he’s there all the time. You don’t forget him.”
During Game 7 against the Indians this past fall, Joe tucked his late father’s cap under his jacket. He keeps it with him. Beanie also has her husband’s hats around her home, including the one he wore every day to work as a plumber.
Joe does have a keepsake to honor his mother. It’s a letter he wrote to her when Maddon was a Minor Leaguer, playing in Class A ball. In it, he expressed his gratitude for everything she did.
“My dad did his thing, and Beanie was pretty much the one who kept tabs on everything, whether I needed a couple bucks or clothes washed or food made or moral support, whatever,” Joe said. “It was always Beanie who did that stuff.
“My dad, he was the more physical [one]. He’d take me out and play catch and come to all the games and talk about sports and take you to ballgames. They had different roles. My mom was also more the disciplinarian. My dad only got upset with me when I got upset with my mom. Otherwise, he never got upset with me.”
“His father was such an easy touch,” she said. “It was like having another kid in the house.”
Somebody has to be tough. Isn’t that what moms do?
“Certainly,” Beanie said. “Somebody has to rule.”
Joe says he would hear her voice if he did something wrong — and still does.
“If you’re going off the rails a little bit, you hear Beanie’s voice,” he said. “Now, she’s a lot more tame than she had been. She was tough, and I needed it. She was the tough one between the two of them. My dad was big, warm, fuzzy. He was a patient, quiet working man. Beanie was slightly more volatile. Now she’s turned into the big teddy bear, too.”
Beanie kept Joe in school. A few days after arriving at Lafayette College, Joe got homesick. He’d never really spent time away from home, and he felt awkward. The tearful freshman called his mom from a pay phone outside his Room 123 at McKeen Hall.
“I said, ‘Beanie, I’m coming home, I want to be a plumber like Dad,'” Joe said. “She said, ‘No, you’re not. You stay right there. It’s going to get better.'”
Beanie was right.
“I said he could come home every weekend. ‘We’ll come for you,'” she said. “Boy, when he got used to [college], he forgot home. All kids go through that.”
They cried in April 1994, when Joe called from a pay phone in Vancouver to say he’d been added to the Angels’ coaching staff and had finally made the big leagues.
“I called her, and I’m weeping on the phone,” Joe said. “I get on a plane and fly to John Wayne Airport. Everything is in such a rush. I had a brand-new leather jacket, and I left it at the Hertz counter. I’d still love to have that bomber jacket back.
“The phone call was really emotional. They were there every step of the way. She still is. The thing about it from my mom, when you’re a kid, you get a lot of platitudes and people are always praising you. You’d probably go off the rails, but she would not permit that. She would not permit me to get full of myself for a second, and [she would] bring me back down quickly.”
There were more tears of joy when Joe called with the news that he was named the Rays’ manager in 2006. Last November, he called Beanie from Cleveland to celebrate the Cubs’ World Series championship. They talked about Joe Sr. The manager’s parents went to every Little League game, every football game, driving the kids in what they called the “taxi.”
“They were at everything — I don’t think they missed a game,” Joe said.
Until last July, Beanie never missed a day of work at the Third Base Luncheonette in Hazleton. Joe says his mother is now “a woman of leisure.”
“Yeah, right,” Beanie said when told that.
She does miss the people, but doesn’t miss being on her feet all day.
“Now I have my time to myself, and I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it and how I want to do it,” Beanie said.
She sounds like her son. Joe stays in touch with his mom through his sister, Carmine, who still lives in Hazleton. His brother, Mark, is in St. Augustine, Fla., where he followed his father’s career path and is a plumber.
“I’m proud of them, I am, I really am,” Beanie said. “The three kids did really well.”
She had a lot to do with that.
“I did something right somewhere along the line,” Beanie said.
She expects a phone call from Joe on Mother’s Day.
“He’ll do that,” Beanie said. “He better, or else.”
“If they’re happy, I’m happy. And if they’re doing good, I feel better,” Beanie said of her children. “They’re all doing good, the three of them. The only thing that bothers me is that their father didn’t get to see it all.”
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.