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Oct. 18—SUGARLOAF — Los Angeles Angels Manager Joe Maddon held his annual golf tournament at Valley Country Club in Sugarloaf on Monday, and the 90 participants battled the cold to "try not to suck."
And it was all for a great cause — Maddon's Hazleton Integration Project, a nonprofit, charitable organization established in 2011.
"Because of events like this one today, the Hazleton Integration Project is getting better all the time," Maddon said.
That was supported by Bob Curry, who is married to Maddon's cousin, Elaine. The Currys have worked at the HIP since its inception. Curry said the HIP serves more than 1,000 clients every week.
"Today's event is enormously important to us," Curry said. "It enables us to sustain all the programs we provide that are vital to the people we serve. Joe and his wife, Jaye, through their generosity assure that the HIP continues and improves every year."
The Hazleton Integration Project's mission is to provide a physical environment within the City of Hazleton, conducive to creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged children to participate in a variety of low-cost educational, cultural and athletic activities. HIP operates the Hazleton One Community Center that engages children in wholesome activities, while fostering trust and respect among all of the region's ethnic cultures.
But Monday was about raising funds for the HIP, and Maddon and about 90 of his closest friends, Lafayette College buddies and supporters took to the links for a day of golf and fellowship,
Before the golfers teed off, Maddon met with members of the media to talk about his foundation, Respect 90, the HIP, the Angels and baseball in general. Wearing a shirt that had Maddon's infamous catch phrase "try not to suck" in Japanese across the front and Maddon 70 on the back, the affable manager spoke passionately about his hometown project and the importance of giving back to the community.
Respect 90 refers to the distance between home plate and fist base — 90 feet — using the analogy that everything for everybody begins at home.
Maddon said being a Major League manager gives him the soap box to promote the HIP and his foundation, which reaches to Tampa, Fla., and Chicago, two places Maddon had much success as a manger, bringing the Cubs their first World Series title in 108 years in 2016.
Talking baseball, Maddon said he looked at 2021 as his first season at the helm of the Angels. He said 2020, the pandemic year that shortened the season to 60 games, doesn't count. He said his focus is in 2022 and building a quality pitching staff to go with his lineup that includes perennial All-Star Mike Trout and phenom Shohei Otahni, who excelled on the mound and at the plate in 2021, while Trout was out most of the season due to injury.
"Our pitching has to get better," Maddon said. "And, of course, we have to stay healthy."
And Maddon said his affinity for giving back to the community is present in his players — he said Trout is a better guy than he is a baseball player and that's saying a lot. Maddon said Trout traveled with the team when they played in Williamsport in August because he wanted to experience that scene and talk to the kids.
Maddon has managed the Angels since 2020. The team has compiled a losing record in six straight seasons and have missed the playoffs for seven consecutive years. His career record as a manager is 1,299 wins and 1,129 loses, for a winning percentage of .535.
In September, Maddon said this in the Orange County (Calif.) Register:
"This can't continue to go on. We can't annually be in this position. This organization is better than that. We deserve better than that."
About the HIP
The Hazleton Integration Project is a community-based effort that seeks to unite the people of many different cultures who call Hazleton home. Through early childhood development and community outreach, we hope to spread the idea that diversity and acceptance can and should be taught to both current and future generations.
The project's main focus is the operation of a high-quality community center that serves economically under served children and families. The facility, known as the Hazleton One Community Center, hosts a variety of educational, athletic, and cultural activities at little or no cost to participants while fostering trust and respect among all of the region's ethnic cultures.
The center features Spanish and English classes, citizenship classes, cultural discussions, and a full slate of sports programs. Among the most noteworthy programs offered at the center are the area's first fully bilingual pre-k program and the highly regarded After School Scholars program with enrollment of 80+ students from kindergarten through grade 8. HIP also operates the highly regarded Spectacular Summers camp program with 100 children in attendance. Plans continue for the Hazleton Integration Project to develop outdoor recreational facilities to host activities throughout the year.
Maddon and the HIP leadership continue to stress the importance of diverse cultural groups spending time together in order to facilitate understanding and appreciation for their cultural similarities and differences.
The Hazleton Integration Project's mission is to provide educational, cultural, and athletic opportunities for economically under-served children. HIP will operate the Hazleton One Community Center with programming designed to engage our children in wholesome activities while fostering trust and respect among all of the region's ethnic cultures.
Recognizing that the country is strengthened by the contributions of diverse cultures, HIP has endeavored to help create and maintain an atmosphere that will serve to unify the varied cultures of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and thus keep the area vibrant and connected.
Across the country, forward-thinking cities and states recognize that their futures lay in embracing the people of rapidly expanding multicultural populations. The areas that have been successful are those that have been progressive in constructing businesses and public services that are inclusive of our nation's growing Hispanic community.
HIP recognizes that city demographics are a part of this national trend, and as such, it intends to focus its efforts toward making positive contributions to the city's future by helping local newcomers feel and understand that they are valued members of the community.
Hazleton One Community Center
225 E 4th St, Hazleton, PA 18201
Hours: Monday — Friday, 8:30 a.m. — 5:30 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. — 9 p.m.
Note that the hours are currently restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Call the center to find out current hours of operation at 570-861-8081.
Contact: [email protected]
Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.