ESPN team unites to show Rays’ Joe Maddon’s hometown integration

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is bringing together the English and Spanish-speaking communities in his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

To document that effort, ESPN’s Ursula Pfeiffer brought together English and Spanish-speaking producers in a pair of pieces that will run Sunday on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and also on ESPN Radio’s The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap at a later date.

Jeff Ausiello came across the idea for this story last spring — we thought it was unique for a Major League manager to tackle a timely topic that’s being encountered across America,” said Pfeiffer, coordinating producer in ESPN’s Cross Platform Newsgathering Unit.

“This is a story that involves sensitive topics that touch two different cultures, and which is of interest to both ESPN’s English and Spanish speaking fans. Together with Jeremy Schaap, whose an extremely experienced journalist, we wanted a bicultural production team that would help make the reporting as fair and good as possible, so we brought in Gustavo Coletti as co-producer.”

Maddon launched his Hazleton Integration Project (HIP) designed to unify his home town’s traditional white and rapidly growing Hispanic populations. His efforts include creating a new community center he hopes will unite the old and new Hazleton.

“There are obviously a lot of elements going on here, both for the city — past, present and future, and Joe Maddon’s initiative,” Ausiello said.

“That’s the real challenge: telling a story like that in seven or eight minutes.”

Ausiello, Coletti (of Argentinian descent), and Schaap first went to Hazleton in December, returning earlier this month to record any progress.

Editor Jason Sanchez helped complete the final product.

“It’s challenging: How do you present your video when a conflict is being presented,” Sanchez said.

“It’s been difficult, but I think we made it happen.”

Pfeiffer acknowledges the challenges but praises the results her team was able to produce.

“There were many delicate topics to work with, so we had to maintain an open mind and avoid becoming judgmental,” Pfeiffer said.

“I feel everyone worked to tell a good sports story, while also understanding the social issues involved, and presenting them in a fair manner. This has been a fulfilling experience, and the story is truly inspiring.”

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  • Karen Storaska

    I am from Hazleton and I applaud Joe and ESPN for taking this seriously!!!! Our city is in turmoil and all if Hazleton’s residents must pull together to safe our beloved city. Crime and bad landlords have ravaged our small community and it gas been blamed on one group. The truth is all member of society are to blame. Crime effects and hurts everyone. Blighted properties hurt the community. If we xan get the Spanish and English residents to come together to clean this town it will benefit everyone!!!! GREAT JOB EVERYONE!!!!! I am a photographer and landlord and would love to help in anyway I can to he a part if saving our city!!!!

  • Tom McCormack

    Many ex-MLB fans claimed to be turned off because they feel the ethnic make-up of the game is 75% Hispanic or Black and just 25% White… when MLB Commissioner’s Report states: “At the start of the 2011 season, the total players of (all) color were 38.3 percent. The opening day rosters were 61.5 percent white…”

    Likewise, many feel the racial make-up of Hazleton is 75% Hispanic or Black and nowadays just 25% White… when the 2010 Census substantiated Hazleton to be 69.4% White and 37.3 % Hispanic…

    This is pointed out to depict, not only the ethnic similarities of Hazleton to Major League Baseball, however the changing paradigms Joe Maddon has encountered and adjusted to since leaving Hazleton & Lafayette University in the late 70’s…

  • Ron erickson

    How shocking, another very wealthy white celebrity telling workng class whites how to live in their ” old hometown”. I wonder if Mr. madden made 50k a year and actually lived in a small home in Hazleton if he would be so welcoming to illegal immigrants who force their ways and customs on the population and use taxpayer fnded scools and healthcare wile NOT PAYING TAXES. And yet another piece of yellow journalism by ESPN. Multiple immigrant/hispanics/dominicans shown over and over again singing their own praises and a hispanic priest claiming racism yet no indendent voices for the anti-illegal immigrant white population. Was none availale ESPN? The crime rate has exploded in Hazleton since this mass immigration by hispanics, and ESPN will show minority after minority simply claiming hispanics are hard working and even that “they gave life to Hazleton”! all this while the majority white Hazleton taxpayer pays the bills and is cowed by the claim of racism that men like Bob Ley jump on so they can craft yet another tired account of “poor mistreated minority”. Please show me with empirical data or some real statistics how the hispanic invasion has IMPROVED HAZLETON. You can’t because the simple fact is that it has not. The only group improved by this is the Hispanic population. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, CAN LOGIC AND BASIC SENSE EVER PREVAIL! (this post is an coherent and valid opinion and not vulgar in any way. Espn makes race a major part of their story and features a catholic priest claiming racism against “his people”. I hope this post will not be censored)