“I’d see all these guys – and women with their children, all of them with their whole lives in a basket. I could not stand to see the inequity in all this. They are invisible. They become invisible. And I always thought if I was in the position to get on a soap box, I would remember those people. Because they aren’t invisible to me.”
– Joe Maddon
Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon first introduced his annual Thanksmas program in 2006 with the purpose of bringing awareness to the homeless situation in Tampa Bay.
“It is a matter in need of our attention,” says the Rays eighth-year manager. The Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness in a report issued earlier this year - 57 homeless for every 10,000 residents. There are about 16,000 homeless people in the Tampa Bay area, and one in five of them are children. The economic slowdown of recent years, including the housing bust and long-term unemployment, are driving up the homeless numbers, according to the National Alliance report.
Over the last eight Thankmas events, Maddon has served approximately 7,000 individuals in need and provided many with clothing, shoes and, in 2013, scarves. His fundraising efforts have also resulted in thousands of dollars in donations to the shelters.
Joe Maddon became the fourth manager in in Tampa Bay Rays history on November 15, 2005. He has managed more games than any Rays manager and has the best record at 677-620 (.522) among them. Maddon holds the fourth-best winning percentage (696-630, .525) among active major league managers with a minimum of 1,000 games. The Rays were 518-775 (.401) prior to his arrival. In 2013, the two-time American League Manager of the Year guided the Rays to their sixth consecutive winning season and fifth 90-win season in the past six years. In 2011, Maddon was named A.L. Manager of the Year, an award he also won in 2008 after guiding the Rays to the World Series. That season, he took the Rays from a 66-96 record in 2007 to a 97-65 mark, the third greatest turnaround in league history.
The 2014 season will be Maddon's 40th season in professional baseball, 21st at the major league level. Prior to joining the Rays, he spent 31 years in the Angels organization. Joe and his wife, Jaye, reside in Tampa, Fla.
Follow Joe on Twitter @RaysJoeMaddon