Joe Maddon's tribute to former Rays advisor Don Zimmer
World Series champion Cubs manager Joe Maddon used his time on Tuesday's MLB Network Manager of the Year awards show to showcase the tribute to former Rays advisor Don Zimmer that rests in the backyard of his Tampa home - a neon sign from the Derby Lane greyhound track.
Maddon set up for the live shot in front of the sign, and explained it to the hosts and national TV audience before announcement of the results, in which he finished second to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Zimmer was an advisor with the Rays when Maddon took over in 2006, and Maddon would draw often on his advice, crediting him specifically for convincing him to use the first-and-third safety squeeze play Maddon now favors. Zimmer, who managed the Cubs in 1988-91, died in June 2014.
Maddon's words on the sign:
"It comes from a local race track where coach Don Zimmer, my man, who I wish I had the opportunity to speak with all season but did not. When he passed away (in June 2014) I used to drive by that sign every day going to Tropicana (Field) and asked to purchase it. But the people from Derby Lane gave it to me, and this is my backyard. I had it charged up tonight, you see some really nice neon flowing in the background. But that's my tribute to "Coach Zimmerman" as I called him. Zim, extraordinary human being. And probably the best strategist I've ever been associated with.''