After leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a wild card berth in the wildest race in American League history, Joe Maddon ’76 has been named the league’s Manager of the Year for the second time by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He also won the award in 2008 after piloting the Rays to the first World Series appearance in franchise history.
“We play the liberal arts style of baseball,” Maddon said when the College awarded him an honorary doctor of letters degree in September 2010. “We do a little bit of everything right. It’s the effort and grinding that makes the team successful. That’s our style and that’s how we win.”
Maddon will return to the Lehigh Valley this weekend for the 147th Lafayette-Lehigh football game. He will join John Leone for an interview at halftime of the Lafayette Sports Network’s live telecast that can be viewed worldwide on ESPN3 and GoLeopards.com. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. Maddon was inducted into the Maroon Club Hall of Fame in 2009.
Tampa Bay posted a 91-71 record in 2011 and won the wild card on the final day of the regular season after trailing the Boston Red Sox by nine games in the standings with 24 left to play. It was the largest deficit ever overcome in September to get to the postseason in Major League history.
The drama of the incredible finish was not lost on him. “I’m aware,” he said after the final game. “I’m totally aware of the circumstances and our place in baseball history.” Maddon received 26 of 28 first-place votes for top manager.
An economics major at Lafayette, Maddon played catcher on the Leopard nine from 1973-75 under head coach Norm Gigon. Initially recruited to play football, he also played one season of freshman football. In his final game, he completed 14 of 17 passes for four touchdowns in a win over Lehigh. The Hazleton, Pa., native then turned his attention exclusively to baseball and played three seasons at Lafayette before signing as a free agent with the California Angels.
After playing four years in the Angels’ minor-league system, Maddon remained with the organization in various coaching roles. He served two short stints as interim manager of the Angels, in 1996 and 1999, and was a bench coach on the 2002 World Series championship team. He became the Rays’ manager in November 2005.
At the honorary degree ceremony, Maddon said, “I had opportunities to go other places, but there was something about Lafayette that drew me here. I am so proud to say that I went to Lafayette College.”
“One of the qualities we celebrate at Lafayette is that it is a place of opportunity,” said President Daniel H. Weiss. “Joe seized an opportunity to pursue his passion, which became a career. Lafayette is proud of your accomplishments.”