MLB & Atlanta Braves

Joe Maddon says managing the Cubs provides him an opportunity to help his Hazleton, Pa., hometown: ‘This is an altruistic moment’

Joe Maddon thanked the crowd in his Pennsylvania hometown with the ease and confidence he does 680 miles away at Wrigley Field.

For Maddon, who spoke Sunday about his intention to return as Cubs manager in 2020, his charity golf tournament for the Hazleton (Pa.) Integration Project reinforced his longstanding commitment to the area where he was raised.

"When you become a Chicago Cub, and all that entails, whether it's the brand itself of the Cubs and then the fan base, where we play, you're easily more recognizable," Maddon said before playing a round at the Valley Country Club. "So it began with that.

"We knew that when we had this opportunity. Right away when you get a chance to manage the Cubs, I thought immediately about all this other stuff that it's going to enhance, and it has. Beyond that, to be able to win a World Series for the first time (since 1908) also lends to it.

"This is an altruistic moment. It is about everyone else. The more we can do that, and the more we can incorporate that kind of thinking, we're going to put everyone in a better spot throughout the United States."

Thanks to Maddon's efforts, the once-abandoned Most Precious Blood Catholic School was purchased in 2013 and transformed into the three-level Hazleton One Community Center, where kids with minority backgrounds have advanced their learning skills through the arts, computers and other programs.

There's a waiting list to enroll in three pre-kindergarten classes, said Bob Curry, founding president of HIP. Curry also said for some children, the hot meal the center provides is the only one they get all day.

Maddon said HIP is pertinent "with what's going on in our country. ... And I think we've been ahead of the curve."

"(Our center) is for everyone," Maddon said. "I can't emphasize that enough. The ability to compromise, come across the aisle, get to know one another, this is the perfect opportunity to do it. We want to keep growing it. We want it to become a national model and at some point help others with same kind of program."

After arriving in Philadelphia following Sunday's 6-3 comeback win over the Reds, Maddon and four staff members and radio announcer Ron Coomer made the two-hour drive to Hazleton.

"This is a wonderful diversion in the middle of the season, to be able to come here, show the place off to good friends from Chicago," Maddon said.

"I always thought what Paul Newman has done with his foundation was a great idea. Today we're so attached to our kitchens, moms and grandmoms that I thought it was a great idea."

Maddon and the Cubs will be making another detour Sunday when they play the Pirates in Williamsport, Pa. – home of the Little League World Series. For Maddon, Little League is another community organization he believes in.

"I love the fact back then we had to make an (Little League) All-Star team," said Maddon, who said he has never been to Williamsport, about 75 miles from Hazleton. "And you played in our local community and made the All-Star team. You made the Hazleton All-Star team and then had to go play West Hazleton, and you have to beat West Hazleton to advance past that. That's what was happening, and it was great. It was kind of meritocracy at that point.

"So to get to the Little League World Series where these kids have earned the right to be there making their team and representing their communities, areas and districts, that's where it's happening."

  Comments