Maddon wins Chuck Tanner Award

Maddon wins Chuck Tanner Award

In a couple of days, Rays skipper Joe Maddon will likely be recognized by the Baseball Writers' Association of America as the American League Manager of the Year.

On Monday, Maddon got a bit of a prelude to that when he was named the Chuck Tanner Major League Manager of the Year.

In the second year for the award, named after the manager of the 1979 World Series champion Pirates, Maddon will join now-Dodgers skipper Joe Torre as a recipient.

The award selection committee -- composed of former Major League players, executives and sports media, including senior correspondent Hal Bodley -- deemed that Maddon best exemplified Tanner's managing and leadership qualities and selected him based on his accomplishments for the 2008 season.

In his third year with Tampa Bay, Maddon guided the Rays to an AL East-best record of 97-65 to break the previous club record by 27 wins. The 2008 Rays also improved their record by 31 games over '07's record -- the third-best improvement in AL history -- and became the first AL team to go from the worst record in the Major Leagues to the postseason in one year.

The award is annually presented by the Rotary Club of Pittsburgh and will be handed out during a banquet on Saturday. Proceeds from the banquet will support the club's humanitarian service initiatives and Rotary Foundation Programs.

Maddon will not be attending the ceremonies, however, because he will still be on his honeymoon at that point.

But he has a suitable replacement.

Accepting the award for Maddon will be Scott Challis, father of John Challis. At age 16, John was diagnosed with Stage 4 of Hepatocellular Carcinoma, an adult form of liver cancer, and died on Aug. 19.

John is fondly remembered for his uplifting message of faith and optimism while battling through the deadly disease.

Before he passed, John and his family created a unique bond with various sports figures, but none grew quite as strong as their relationship with Maddon, who now has a special T-shirt for sale with all proceeds going to the John Challis Courage for Life Foundation.

"I thought what better place for the Challis family, with what just happened, for them to accept the award on my behalf," Maddon said via conference call from his honeymoon in Europe after being named AL Manager of the Year on Wednesday. "I also wanted it to be a platform and a venue for them to talk about their foundation.

"I thought it was the right thing to do, and they're very excited about it."

More information on Maddon's contributions to Challis' memory can be found on the John Challis Courage for Life Foundation Web site.

Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.