TAMPA — Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon hovered over tables of pierogies and spaghetti at the Salvation Army on Wednesday night, clasping people's backs, asking how the food was and autographing lots of clothes — caps, a shirt, a jacket.
The meal at the shelter, 1601 N Florida Ave., was the final event of this year's Thanksmas, an annual outreach in the Tampa Bay area. More than 150 people attended.
Plates were handed out with food including spaghetti and meatballs — from the Italian side of Maddon's father — and pierogies — from his mother's Polish side. Guests also got scarves and toiletries as they left.
Maddon started Thanksmas in 2006, a year after being hired as the Rays' manager. He said he thought of the idea while living in California, seeing homeless people "pushing shopping carts with their whole life in them."
Next year, he hopes to get the public more involved.
In between eating, Bob Mastellone talked baseball with Maddon. Mastellone, who stays at the shelter, said this was his third time attending Thanksmas.
Sporting a Yankees cap, he once lived in New York and roots for both teams. But Maddon is his favorite baseball manager.
"Joe, he's a class act," he said. "He don't have to do this."