Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rays Maddon steps up to the plate

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon will never be confused with Joe Torre, at least not right now anyway, but Maddon was a Hall of Famer on Tuesday afternoon at the Salvation Army in Bradenton.

Maddon bought more than $1,900 worth of food for three days of what he called his Thanksmas. He served dinner for the homeless and less fortunate in Bradenton on Tuesday, and was scheduled to serve lunch at the St. Vincent DePaul’s soup kitchen in St. Petersburg on Wednesday afternoon and dinner at the Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa on Thursday night.

Maddon has thought about doing something like this since his days as a coach with the Anaheim Angels. His daily bike ride would take Maddon past the beach where he would see the homeless.

Maddon said he always thought if he had the chance to do something he would. Now that he is a major league manager, which gives him a platform of sorts, Maddon decided to feed as many people as he could.

He and a handful of Rays staffers served dinner to nearly 300 people Tuesday.

It’s great when professional athletes, coaches and managers take time to give something back to the community that supports them. Maddon not only purchased the food, it was his recipe that was used in making the 1,500 meatballs and the sauce.

The dinner was a hit – spaghetti, meatballs, salad and cake. One diner wanted to know if the meal was from the Olive Garden.

Another offered Maddon this praise:

“The quote of the night,” Maddon said. “He told me I’m a better cook than manager. I took that to mean I’m a really great cook.”

Well, in Maddon’s defense, he had better ingredients to work with Tuesday.

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