HAZLETON -- Baseball's National League Manager of the year, Joe Maddon comes home to Hazleton each year for the holidays and when he does, he fundraises for the Hazleton One Community Center, which offers a variety of programs to kids, and the Hazleton Integration Project. Known as HIP, the project is an effort to unite people of all different backgrounds in the city.
"It's exciting. It's about the kids. It's about getting the kids opportunity and hopefully bringing the parents together, too,” said Maddon.
Wednesday night, for the first time, Maddon put together a clinic for area baseball and softball coaches.
They paid to come learn from the best: a sports psychologist, college and professional coaches.
Among those on-hand were former baseball pro Jose Cardenal and Jim Hickey, pitching coach for the Tampa Bay Rays.
"It's an absolutely awesome opportunity to expand on your baseball knowledge. We saw the resumes of all these guys speaking, just a tremendous opportunity,” said Jon Woytach, an assistant baseball coach for Pittston Area High School.
“We want to just see what they have to say about the hitting, pitching, base running and just see what Joe has to say about the game of baseball,” said Joe Diskin, an assistant baseball coach at Marywood University.
The manager of the Chicago Cubs hopes to continue this clinic in years to come, making it bigger and better. Those who know him say Joe Maddon is a man who gets things done and they're happy to help him.
"Very humbling and definitely an honor. When they asked me to come down and speak at this, it was honestly in some ways, it was super excitement. I felt like a kid again to be able to come down with Joe Maddon and help such a good cause as the Hazleton Integration Project,” said Paul McGloin of Electric City Baseball and Softball Academy.
Maddon will be doing other fundraising in the next few days.
Friday night will be his annual dinner and auction event at Genetti's near Hazleton. Then on Sunday, he and others will cook a meal for hundreds of homeless and less fortunate people at the Hazleton One Community Center.