The RVing Tampa Bay Rays Manager
By Ann Cosentino, Photography by Jeff Fay
Anyone who plays or follows Major League Baseball (MLB) knows that Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has a deep passion for the sport, along with the well-earned respect of fans and rivals alike for taking his team from the bottom to the top. It’s no understatement to call him a living legend in the world of baseball.
I am an “all-American girl,” which, by definition, means that I love baseball. I grew up shouting, “Ghost man on second!” while playing with my team of two sisters against the neighbor brothers. I eventually gave up those games when I grew older and life took over; but my love for baseball has never faded.
So, imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to sit down and interview MLB hero Joe Maddon and his wife, Jaye. Funnily enough, our conversation did not focus on baseball; instead, we talked about another common passion: RVing. It was RV delivery day for the Maddons, who had recently purchased a 2014 Tiffin Phaeton from Lazydays and were here to take ownership of their coach. They kindly invite me to join them inside the motorhome for our interview, so I share in their first impressions as we cross the threshold into their new home-on-wheels.
Upon first entry, Joe and Jaye pause for a moment in appreciation and amazement, temporarily oblivious to our cameras, lights and setup.
It’s easy to see why RV enthusiasts are drawn to the Tiffin Phaeton, which is equipped with two leather sofas, four flat-screen televisions, a residential stainless-steel refrigerator, a drawer dishwasher and a full bath-and-a-half. This model also includes membership to the Lazydays Crown Club, where RVers can enjoy the many amenities and resort-style atmosphere. As we sit down, Joe relaxes into the leather couch and Jaye comfortably settles in next to him — both clearly at home with the RV lifestyle.
So it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that the Maddons only began their RVing career earlier this year, as a way to safely and comfortably transport their four-legged children — Winston, a 2-year-old bulldog, and Athena, a 9-year-old Great Dane — from the West Coast to the East Coast. While the couple initially planned to rent an RV, after exploring their options, they decided to purchase a 30-foot, gas-engine, Class A Hurricane by Thor Motor Coach. Their maiden voyage proved to be a success, and even raised money for the no-kill Pet Pal Animal Shelter in St. Petersburg, Fla.
As we discuss that first trip, I discover that Jaye fearlessly settled into the captain’s chair for the long drive from the Pacific to the Atlantic. While some women may prefer the role of navigator, Jaye appears to be confident and comfortable behind the wheel. The couple’s dogs adapted well to this new mode of travel, as did their human companions — including Jaye’s two sons, who helped with navigation and driving duties on the trip. Along the way, they encountered a few days of high winds as the white-knuckled drivers proceeded with eyes wide and alert. The new Tiffin will be able to handle those types of challenging conditions with much greater authority, and Jaye is quite thankful for that.
During this initial journey, Joe and Jaye realized that they both loved the RV lifestyle, but needed something larger. Their RV was not just going to be used for weekend trips, but for extended adventures and enjoying life. Joe plans to live in his condo-on-wheels during the Rays’ spring training season, and the couple anticipate spending a good deal of time on the road during the off-season. Like most RVers, they also plan to use the coach to share fun times with family.
When I ask Joe and Jaye about the first vacation they plan to take in their new motorhome, they respond with one of my favorite destinations: Key West, Fla. This magical jewel of an island offers a relaxed, Caribbean vibe. It’s a happening spot with a sense of casual luxury, yet it’s built on a foundation of laid-back ease. In other words, it’s perfectly suited to an easy-going, fun-loving couple like Joe and Jaye Maddon.
Having traveled a bit, the Maddons eagerly shared a few other choice getaway locales. They were both impressed with Beverly Beach, along the eastern side of Florida’s Flagler Beach, where campers enjoy windshield-wide views of the Atlantic Ocean. In the west, they are partial to Las Cruces, N.M., which offers picturesque scenes at every turn. As we reminisced about our favorite travel destinations, I was reminded of how RVing brings together people from all walks of life. You never know who you’ll meet when you pull into a campsite; imagine stepping outside your RV and discovering your next-door neighbor is Joe Maddon.
But beyond the opportunities for travel and adventure, what Joe and Jaye appreciate most about RVing is its ability to slow down their fast-paced lives. Like all of us, they look forward to unplugging from the daily rush, taking the scenic route and enjoying quality time with loved ones and each other, while experiencing the simple pleasures of a more calm and serene approach to living. These new RVers took no time at all to discover and share our love for this unique pastime that allows us to cultivate the best things in life: freedom, relaxation and rejuvenation.
Although I could have happily spent hours discussing travel, wine, food and baseball with the Maddons, I knew they were eager to get settled in their new coach. So rather than indulging my curiosity to know if a youthful Joe ever yelled “Ghost man on second!”, I wrapped up our interview by asking if he would share an inspirational quote to help a lineup of travel enthusiasts play our best RV game. Joe responded by paraphrasing Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “Every great journey begins with the first step.”
A fitting end to this article, and the perfect start to Joe and Jaye’s next adventure. So whether you are preparing for your first RV trip or have logged countless miles on the road, get behind the wheel and let the good times roll!