"I was with the Angels and we were at home in Long Beach," Maddon said, recalling the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. "I got into my Dodge Ram pickup truck and turned the radio on and the reports were coming in and I thought it was another 'War of the Worlds' kind of hoax and a made-up event or moment. I figured out it wasn't.
"That particular day, my buddy, Neil, had just been appointed the head of the [New York] Port Authority," Maddon said of Neil Levin, who was his fraternity brother. "We had just been in contact for the first time in 20-something years prior to that. I knew he worked at the World Trade Center."
Hearing that the towers had been targeted, Maddon tried to calm his fears.
"My thought was, 'OK, it happened early enough, he's the boss, please don't go to work early,'" Maddon said. "But apparently he was up in the restaurant when that all happened. I never got a chance to see Neil. I believe he would've been governor of New York now had he lived."
Levin, who had gone to Lafayette College with Maddon, was killed five days before his 47th birthday. He and Maddon had talked about a month before, planning on a get-together in New York.
"Neil's gone," Maddon said. "A lot of people have a lot of different stories, but Neil was my horrible moment from that day."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.