Growing up in western Pennsylvania, young Joe Maddon idolized Joe Namath.
"You have no idea [how much]," Maddon said Tuesday when the New York Jets legend visited the Tampa Bay Rays in Jupiter for their game against the Miami Marlins. Maddon even went to the trouble of opening the gate at Roger Dean Stadium to let Namath in.
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• Maddon wore white shoes to honor Namath, who famously defied convention and expectation on the field and off during his storied career. Based on that alone, it makes sense Maddon would like him, knowing what we know about the Rays manager.
• Namath and Maddon exchanged stories and jerseys (the Rays took Wade Boggs' No. 12 out of retirement for the day for "Broadway" Joe) and Namath took Tampa Bay's lineup card to home plate before the first pitch. In a cute video, Maddon says he has anointed "Mr. Namath" to be Rays manager for a day. Namath even got some tips from bench coach Dave Martinez.
"For me personally, it's quite a moment. I'm not usually starstruck but I have been today,'' Maddon said.
Namath, who lives in Tequesta, near Jupiter, said he was impressed with what he knew and heard of Maddon, a fellow Pennsylvanian. "I just like Joe's style and what I've read about him, and was flattered that he invited me to practice,'' Namath said.
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