( An imagined recollection )
I seem to be the talk of the town now, but it wasn't always that way. Let me take you back to the beginning.
When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a big -league ball player. I did not have the best set of physical skills, but what I lacked in that department I tried to make up in sheer grit and determination. After high school I was bitterly disappointed not to be drafted by any team. After several months, I was lucky to be signed as a free agent by the California Angels. Here I am as a rookie.....full of dreams and big plans.
Over the next 3 years, those dreams and big plans slowly dissolved. I did not get to play in very many games and those I did play in were uninspiring. In 3 years of single A ball, I batted barely over .250 as a role player. As my dreams of being a big league player evaporated, I re-aligned my sights toward being a Manager. I approached the organization and expressed my ambition. They gave me a chance to manage their rookie and Class A teams. Over the next 6 years as a manager I learned a lot but never once posted a winning record. Again, not very inspiring. Inexplicably, the organization did not fire me but re-assigned me to "roving scout" and roving "hitting instructor". Imagine that. A career .250 minor league hitter as a roving hitting instructor. My boss at the time impressed upon me that my role was that of a teacher and to maximize each prospect's potential. My lack of hitting prowess shouldn't hinder me from helping others get better. I think I was good at that.
Life as a minor league anything is not a bed of roses. If you don't know anything about the economics of baseball, it works like this. All the money is at the top. Compensation drops off fast as you work your way down the food chain. By the time you get to the minor leagues and "roving instructors" there isn't much money left. Money was always tight for me. I wasn't able to give my wife and 2 small kids the life I thought they should have. The financial strain and transient lifestyle as a roving coach took a toll on my young family and my marriage fell apart. That was a huge sacrifice to give to the game. Still, I kept putting one foot in front of the other.
Over time I made my way up the ladder to become a bench coach on the Angels. All told, I gave 31 years to the Angel's organization before being named Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. That's a long time to wander in the wilderness. Most folks conveniently forget about the sacrifices that I made and the years of self-doubt that I had as I pursued my dream.
As Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays for 9 years, I had my share of success and began to emerge from the shadows into the limelight. Now as Manager of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, I qualify as the quintessential "Overnight Success". It's only been 40 years in the making. It's been an amazing journey. My name is Joe Maddon.