Nov. 16, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (www.lafayette.edu) - Joe Maddon impressed them from the start. Following a near perfect initial interview and an even better second, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' organization named the former Lafayette baseball player its new manager, the team announced on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
With a lifetime of experience working in and around America's pastime, coupled with more then 30 years around the majors, Maddon will finally have the opportunity to jump into the driver's seat in Tampa Bay.
"I am thrilled to become the manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays," Maddon said. "It was an easy decision, made even easier by my comfort with the new front-office team. Give the organization's new direction and its talented nucleus, we have the potential to experience great success."
It's a dream come true for Maddon, who has been working his way into baseball's illustrious inner circle since back in 1975. The former standout for Lafayette-turned minor league catcher caught the managerial bug after just a few years in the Angels' farm system.
While at Lafayette, Maddon also played football, but a growing hunger to play baseball professionally led him to focus more on the diamond. Then head coach Norm Gigon groomed Maddon into a catcher, before cutting him loose after two seasons to pursue his dream.
In 1981, Maddon scored his first job as a manager with the Angels' Pioneer League Single-A club in Idaho Falls. After that, he worked his way up the managerial ladder with several stints in Single-A ball before moving on to become the roving hitting instructor for a Double-A club out of Midland. He also served as the Minor League Field Coordinator and eventually Director of Player Development.
All of that quality time spent in the minors finally paid off, as Maddon leapt onto baseball's grandest stage on May 17, 1994. Making his way back to California, Maddon was appointed bullpen coach for the California Angels.
Over the better part of a decade, Maddon worked rigorously through the Angels' organization, moving from first base coach to eventually bench coach. When current skipper Mike Scioscia took over the club in 2001, Maddon was the only coach that the new manager retained.
The combination clicked, culminating in the Angels' first World Series title in 2002. With Maddon still on board, the team fell just short this past season to the Chicago White Sox. Even still, being a part of a World Series Championship, as a player or coach, was something Maddon had his eye on since childhood.
Unlike the majority of managers in today's game, Maddon does not have playing experience past the Single-A level. However, what he lacks in practical experience, he makes up for with determination and the ability to motivate and organize. Maddon has also been noted to have an unbelievable knowledge of numbers and statistics, which he then uses to equip his players and coaches with appropriate, useful information.
Landing with the Tampa Bay organization was not Maddon's first crack at making the move to the top. He interviewed with former Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein in 2003.
Now at age 51, the Hazleton, Pa. native will now call Florida his home. Maddon blew the Devil Ray's away with his knowledge of both their team and organization when interviewing in late October. He knew the Devil Ray's strengths and weaknesses through-and-through, while presenting a detailed plan of how to get the team back on track beginning with spring training.
"[It was] the most impressive interview I've been through in my career," said Gerry Hunsicker, the Ray's senior vice president of operations and baseball lifer.
Maddon beat out several other big-name candidates for the job, including Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton, Yankees bench coach Joe Girardi, Tigers manager Alan Trammell and former Phillies third baseman and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.
According to the Devil Rays, Maddon will focus on improving pitching and defense, two components the new manager feels should help the team bulk-up the win column. In addition, unlike many teams that only focus on fundamentals during spring training, Maddon said he will make that a priority throughout the season.
He will do the little things better and more often than the next guy to get ahead. Now, Madden will apply that philosophy to his new club, hoping to turn over a new leaf for Tampa Bay.