Maddon emphasizes 'Respect 90' message

Saying painted on first-base line encourages running hard, making good things happen

Maddon emphasizes 'Respect 90' message

MESA, Ariz. -- Ernie Banks used to come up with a saying every year for the Cubs. This season, manager Joe Maddon's message has been painted along the first-base line of Field 1 at the Cubs' complex: Respect 90.

Last Dec. 3, Maddon posted the message on his Twitter account @CubsJoeMadd: "Respect 90 ... going to make daily push for our players to respect that distance .. run hard for 90 feet, and the respect will come back to you." It's also on his Twitter profile.

And the Cubs players will see it on other fields as well. It's something he wants ingrained in their minds.

"It really is the message I want to get out there," Maddon said. "I believe if we respect that 90 feet every day, a lot of good things are going to happen here."

He said he was inspired on a plane ride in the 1990s. At that time, Maddon had just been passed over to be a Major League coach and was upset.

"I didn't like life, I didn't like anything," Maddon said.

He got on an airplane, headed to Midland, Texas, where he was to be a roving hitting instructor. To make matters worse, Maddon got stuck in a middle seat.

"Middle seat, and I'm not happy about anything," he said Thursday. "This woman sits down on the window seat, and she starts talking, which I didn't want to do either. It was just one of those days. Eventually, during the course of the conversation, I don't know why, she said, 'Whatever you put out there will come back to you.'

"I promise you I got off that airplane that day with an entirely different outlook," Maddon said. "This is at least 20-something years ago, maybe more. That's the part about 'Respect 90.' Understand whatever you put out there will come back to you. If you give respect, you'll get respect in return. That's the message and the only message I want to get out of that.

"If you really believe that and live by that, a lot of things will come your way, and on the baseball field, a lot of good things will come your way."

Maddon had not used "Respect 90" while with the Rays but would have done so this year if he had stayed. He had other sayings in Tampa Bay, such as "nine equals eight."

"I guess Mr. Banks used to do it also," Maddon said. "This was more of an organic moment. I thought of it one day and said, 'God, I really like that.'"

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.