Joe Maddon At Home In Hyde Park

When I was a kid in Philadelphia, my family lived about two blocks from the house where the Phillies’All-Star shortstop, Granny Hamner, resided. (I doubt that anyone other than Tom McEwen, Don Zimmer and Larry Thornberry would remember him.) This wasn’t the Philly suburbs, mind you, but a city neighborhood of row (not town) houses. Little did I realize what an anomaly that would become – a prominent sports celebrity living in a neighborhood.

Now, because such celebs tend to make a whole lot of money and too many people want a piece of their time, they’re pretty much relegated to gated communities and other high-end variations on an exclusive-enclave theme. You see them at the stadium or arena or maybe a banquet or VIP event – not reading the paper at Indigo or Starbucks after a morning stroll or bike ride.

Unless you’re talking about Devil Rays’ manager Joe Maddon.

Much has been made of his “new breed” style. A college-educated, iPod-savvy, red-wine savoring, diet-conscious bicycle enthusiast. His gray hair is semi-spiked. He doesn’t need a cuspidor. His girl friend just graduated from law school.

After all his years with the Angels of Anaheim, Maddon, 52, figured he’d try to replicate his California experience by living, once again, on the beach after he was hired by the Rays. But one of his players gave him a heads up about what might suit him best in the Tampa Bay area.

“Josh Paul (a catcher, who also has moved on to the Rays) said that I needed to check out Hyde Park,” said Maddon. “He said it was my kind of place. He was right. You don’t find many neighborhoods right in the city like this any more. And Bayshore is obviously special.”

Granted, Hyde Park is more ritzy than “Rocky,” but it’s also a leafy, historic, family-friendly neighborhood. It has its share of doctors, lawyers, and industry captains, but certainly no sports celebrities.

Maddon is currently renting there with an eye on several bungalows. He needs one with a garage apartment – to accommodate visiting family and friends from Pennsylvania. He owns a late 19th century Victorian house in his native Hazelton, Pa., and is enamored of the Craftsman bungalow architectural touches he sees around him.

“I’m comfortable here,” he underscored.

One footnote to Maddon’s current, temporary townhouse setup. “Tampa Bay Illustrated,” the upscale lifestyle magazine, has a Maddon feature upcoming for its July issue. “TBI” came by for a photo shoot last month expecting, well, the luxury digs of a major league manager. Maybe some languid shots by the pool or a lavishly appointed living room or a posh, in-home theater.

They got more of a “bachelor apartment,” according to Maddon.

Reportedly, creative minds ultimately carried the day.

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