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Joe Maddon humbled, warmed, relieved on return to face Rays

The former Rays and current Angels manager started his day with a luncheon induction to the Sports Club of Tampa Bay Hall of Fame.
Current Angels and former Rays manager Joe Maddon was inducted into the Sports Club of Tampa Bay Hall of Fame on Friday.
Current Angels and former Rays manager Joe Maddon was inducted into the Sports Club of Tampa Bay Hall of Fame on Friday. [ MARC TOPKIN | Times ]
Published Jun. 26

ST. PETERSBURG — Joe Maddon felt a lot of things Friday.

The current Angels and former Rays manager was humbled early in the afternoon after being inducted into the Sports Club of Tampa Bay Hall of Fame, joining homegrown legends such as Al Lopez, Tony La Russa and Lou Piniella.

He was warm and fuzzy upon returning to Tropicana Field, noting some of the accomplishments and “great memories” during his nine-year run in the home dugout that ended in 2014.

And he was relieved when the broken shifter cable in the 1959 El Camino he drove from the Tampa home he still has to the Trop was quickly repaired.

Maddon’s induction took place during a luncheon at the Columbia restaurant at Ybor City, with wife Jaye, several Hall members, and the Angels coaching staff and general manager Perry Minasian on hand. Other Hall members, such as Fred McGriff and Wade Boggs, and some former Rays sent congratulatory messages and videos.

“It’s very humbling when you see the other people involved,” Maddon said. “The whole group, to be included with that, it’s kind of hard to understand. I’m from northeastern Pennsylvania. I came down here and because of some really great baseball players I’m able to be considered this way.”

Maddon was enshrined thanks to his onfield success as well as his charitable endeavors through annual Thanksmas events and his Tampa Bay-based Respect 90 Foundation.

The memories from his Rays days remain vivid and rewarding, he said. Among the favorites, he cited the final out pop-up Evan Longoria caught to clinch their first ever playoff berth in 2008; Akinori Iwamura stepping on second to record the the final out of the 2008 AL Championship Series and send them to the World Series; and Longoria’s walkoff homer in Game 162 of the 2011 season.

“Those really stand out,” he said.

The shifter cable problem could have been an unexpected hassle on a busy day, but quick work by visiting clubhouse manager Brandon “Tank” Richesin got it picked up, repaired and back at the Trop before game time.

Maddon had visited the Trop once before as an opposing manager, with the Cubs in 2017, so there was no formal “Welcome back” or tribute video, but plenty of good vibes as he talked with a number of Rays staff.

“It’s warm and inviting,” he said. “It felt very familiar.”

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