ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – The Escanaba softball program is one of the best in the nation.
They’ve won back to back state titles before COVID-19 derailed their third straight attempt last season.

They’re looking to get back again there again this spring, and they will do so with the support of Los Angeles Angels Manager, Joe Maddon.

After being hired to coach the Escanaba softball team in January, Andy Fields and his staff began brainstorming ideas to raise money for the upcoming season. Little did they know a t-shirt would catapult their team to the national stage.

“Fundraising is a big part of what we do. Traveling around and everything. I just wanted to do a shirt. One of my assistant coaches came up with this idea, he’s a big Joe Maddon fan, and he’s like here’s an idea for this shirt, and I’m like I love it,” said Fields.

The design features one of Maddon’s famous #Maddonisms, ‘Do simple better.’ The team adopted it as their slogan for the upcoming season.

“We were like, well he does use these so it might be copyrighted. So we wanted to go through the avenues of it’s okay to use this,” said Fields.

They reached out to Maddon’s ‘Respect 90 Foundation’ and got the green light to print the shirts.

Proceeds raised from shirt sales will go to the Escanaba program and the ‘Miracle League’ of Orange County, California. Their mission is to allow children with mental and physical disabilities the ability to play ball.

“It’s important for me because being a coach, it breaks my heart that all kids aren’t given the same opportunity as all kids. All kids should get that opportunity to have fun and enjoy America’s pastime,” said Fields.

Fields had his idea, they had permission, then they received a request.

“After a couple of weeks, Joe wanted a shirt. So we were like ‘okay, cool he’s in spring training, we didn’t think much of it, you know, we’ll just thank him for uh letting us do this.’ Then on Friday all of a sudden we get this on Twitter, he’s wearing the shirt.”

“Shoutout to the ladies in Escanaba Michigan. Pretty impressive program. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The fact that they would even ask is very flattering to us,” said Joe Maddon, the Manager of the Los Angeles Angels.

“It’s just, I’m blown away by it really, It’s awesome,” said Fields.

And as if the shout out wasn’t enough.

“Ladies if you’re ever around the Angels playing anywhere, you’re always welcome to come to see us. We would love to get to know you in person,” said Maddon in his press conference.

“To have a manager of his caliber to take the time this time of year during spring training, one of the most pivotal time of the year, it’s quite an honor for our program. It really is. It’s really humbling it’s still a little surreal,” concluded Fields.

The Escanaba Softball team met for the first time as a group this past Sunday. During the meeting Fields and his coaching staff showed the players the video for the first time. Fields told Local 3 that the players were shocked and excited adding, “They all want to go to L.A. now.”

If you would like to purchase a shirt to help support the Escanaba Softball program or the Miracle League of Orange County, California you can CLICK HERE

To learn more about the ‘Respect 90 Foundation, CLICK HERE

To learn more about the “Miracle League of OC, Cali.” CLICK HERE

The company that printed the shirts (Meiers Signs Inc.) has agreed to match any donation that is raised during the fundraising process.

Maddon’s full message to the team is in the video below.

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