Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon has a slogan for the way he wants baseball played. He calls it Respect 90. It means play the game the right way. Never take a play off. Go as hard as you can on every single play. Respect the game.
Maddon tries to live his life the same way.
He has a charitable foundation that is also titled Respect 90. In 2017, when Maddon won his 1000th game as a manager, he celebrated with a glass of red wine. Then he donated one thousand meals to shelters in Chicago and Tampa.
It's now the holiday season and Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation is giving again.
in 2006, Maddon started his Thanksmas program. He was then the Tampa Bay Rays manager and he started providing holiday meals and backpacks filled with supplies at St. Petersburg's St. Vincent DePaul shelter. The event helped thousands of needy residents in that area. It continued annually until Maddon left to manage the Cubs after the 2014 season.
Even though Maddon was working in Chicago, he still lives in Tampa in the offseason and considers it his home. He restarted the Thanksmas event in 2017. Last week there was another meal the DePaul shelter, as well as one at the Salvation Army.
Maddon doesn't just write a check, he and his wife Jaye work it. They show up, shake hands, sign autographs, and they help make and serve food. They talk the talk. He told the Tampa Bay Times why he did this:
"Boots on the ground matter. It sends a different message that you are invested. When we first started doing this people asked me why are you getting involved in that? These are a bunch of people that don't want to work, they're lazy, they want something for nothing, that's all that was said. The concept was always the single male who was down on his luck, hanging out on the street corner panhandling. All these negative adjectives applied to him. That was the public perception.
That was so far from the truth. I even said that back in the day, and now it's even more obvious to me that I was right. I didn't even know it, that was just my original impression. Nobody ever understood the entire scope of it. I still don't because of all the families and kids involved. Until you get out there and involved and come to a place like this and press the flesh, and talk to the folks running it, find out the entire scope of what's going on. It's such a multi-layered, almost impossible to figure out situation."
In addition to these two events, the Maddons will hold similar programs in Chicago and Hazelton, Pennsylvania.
"It's a simple meal where you get to break bread and sit with somebody and talk with somebody just like we did back in the day. Just to let people know that you care and they're not invisible."
Joe Maddon shows he's not invisible during the off-season. He respects 90!
This is another in the series Faces of Homelessness
Related Post: Mookie Betts feeds the homeless
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.