After the final out of the 2019 season was recorded, all the fans went home, and the lights were turned off, there was really only one thing that seemed to be happening without a shadow of a doubt.
Joe Maddon was leaving Chicago.
The Manager who brought a World Series to the Friendly Confines was going to walk out of Wrigley for the last time and look for greener pastures. After the Los Angeles Angels fired Brad Ausmus, it was an absolute no brainer. Maddon was going to return to the Angels, a team that holds a very special place in his heart.
And now, it’s official.
When you think of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, what comes to mind? Is it Kris Bryant getting the final out? Is it Rajai Davis hitting a home run? Or is it Anthony Rizzo absolutely losing his mind?
For me, it’s Joe Maddon’s Angels hat.
When I saw him wearing it during an interview, my emotions began with confusion and then settled into that warm, cushy romanticism we all have about baseball.
Between Games 5 and 6, Maddon was asked if he had seen any good omens for the series.
“Omens, I don’t know,” he said. “I did see my dad’s hat in my bag today. I carry my dad’s hat with me.”
“He passed away in 2002, we won the World Series, and I’ve had his old Angel hat in my bag since then. So it goes everywhere. So the one thing I’m relying on today is my dad. I held onto his hat a little bit this morning, and that’s probably the omen in a sense going into this game.”
After Game 7 was over, and his team celebrated on the field, Maddon took his father’s hat out of his back pocket, and wore it.
In 1974, Joe Maddon signed a minor league deal with the Angels. After 5 years in their minor league system, he gave up the glove for front-office job. Over the next few years, Maddon would be a scout, hitting coach and finally, a minor league manager until 1994. That season lead to Maddon’s call up to the Majors, as the Angels bullpen coach.
From there he’d become first base coach, bench coach, and a three-time interim manager.
All of that culminating in a 2002 World Series ring.
While Maddon left the Angels in 2006 to manage the Rays, it’s obvious that he has deep ties to the organization. And if his track record means anything, he knows how to make them into the team that brings a World Series back to California.
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