Maddon, players reflect on dads' influences

Maddon, players reflect on dads' influences

Maddon, players reflect on dads' influences
ST. PETERSBURG -- Whether it was manager Joe Maddon or one of the players, all members of the Rays had grins when speaking about their dads.

After all, these were the men in their lives that raised them, pushed them to new heights, sacrificed and, most importantly, were there for them.

"My parents, my dad, they worked every single day, and they gave up a lot for us to be able to play baseball and do what we wanted to do in our lives," starting pitcher James Shields said. "That's what I'm most grateful for. ... My dad was always there for me whenever I needed him, all the time."

Shields said a specific memory didn't come to mind immediately about his father, but rather it was a collection of them that he's fond of. Others, like outfielder Matt Joyce, didn't have such a problem of thinking of one on the spot.

Joyce said there was one day his father stressed the importance of hard work in order to fulfill his baseball dreams. He took the advice to heart and one day took one of his father's tarps and set it up with bungee cords so he could hit baseballs into it to practice his swings. After his dad got home from work though, he yelled at him for using his "good tarp."

Joyce looks back on the moment and laughs about the irony of it. He said his dad encouraged him to do it some more, albeit with something else subbed in for the tarp.

Maddon has a memory chiseled in his head he's still fond of nearly 49 years after it happened. His father took him to Yankee Stadium on Aug. 24, 1963, to see Whitey Ford and the Yankees win 3-0 over Ray Herbert and the Chicago White Sox.

Maddon remembers Johnny Blanchard's home run and Tom Tresh in center field saving another to end the game. But most importantly, after the game was over, he and his dad walked on the field to see the monuments after the game, and as they were leaving, his father asked him if he wanted to buy a hat.

"That's when I picked the St. Louis baseball Cardinal hat, it was blue with the red STL on it," Maddon said. "That was 1963 and the moment I became a Cardinal fan in baseball, football, Hawks in basketball, Blues in hockey, which weren't even alive yet. ... I liked it, I liked the blue with the red STL on it."

Tampa Bay will be hoping to make more memories on Sunday, and are 7-7 on Father's Day, historically.