Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon never got past Class A in four years as a minor league catcher in the California Angels organization.
But after retiring as a player he became a scout for the Angels, then a hitting instructor and, finally, a manager in the Angels’ farm system where he had an undistinguished 279-339 record in 6 seasons before ending his 15-year stay in the “bushes” and being promoted to a coaching position with the parent club in 1994. In 11 years with the big-league Angels he was a first-base coach, bench coach and interim manager.
He was given his first big-league managerial job with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for the 2006 season, 27 years after his playing days ended.
Despite 2 World Series appearances, the Cubs’ first championship in over a century, and recognition as one of the best managers in MLB today, his major league managerial record is a relatively modest 981-852, for a .535 winning percentage – including last season’s stellar 103-58 (.640).
We were reminded of Maddon’s apprenticeship and journeyman roles as we considered the current Park Ridge mayoral campaign, where Lucas Fuksa is challenging Acting Mayor Marty Maloney for the right to lead City government for the next four years.
Maloney’s road to the “big leagues” has not been nearly as lengthy as Maddon’s, but it is significant: elected twice to the Park Ridge Park District Board – serving 8 years (2003-2011), including 2 separate 1-year stints as Board president; and elected twice as 7th Ward alderman – serving 6 years (2011-2017), including the last 2 years as Acting Mayor.
That’s 14 years as an elected public official, with a 14-year record not just of ideas and positions but, also, of actual real-world decisions and countable votes, both winning and losing ones.
To slightly paraphrase the estimable Yankee manager Casey Stengel: “You can look it up.”
During his first four years as alderman, Maloney, along with the late Ald. Dan Knight (5th), proved to be the staunchest of allies of the late Mayor Dave Schmidt and his “Honesty, Integrity, Transparency & Accountability” philosophy of City government. When Mayor Dave died suddenly in March 2015, Maloney was so respected by his Council colleagues that they selected him as the Acting Mayor.
As best as we can tell, Maloney has continued Mayor Dave’s H.I.T.A. legacy for the past two years. That offends those special interests looking for personal advantage and profit from local government, but delights the majority of Park Ridge voters looking for good government and good value for their tax dollars. Consequently, the City has continued its recovery from the many failures and general boneheaded-ness of City administrations from 2001 through 2011.
Challenger Fuksa’s record? Non-existent.
No service in a local elective office. No service in a local appointive office. And after a fairly exhaustive Google search, we could find no record of his showing up at any local government meeting or otherwise taking any public position on ANY local governmental issue – City, Park District or School District – until his announcement late last year that he was running for mayor.
In other words, he’s been MIA for his career as a Park Ridge resident.
If one considers Maloney’s 8 years of Park Board service as the “minor leagues” (if only because its budget is just a fraction of the City’s), his first 4 years of aldermanic service as major-league “coaching,” and his 2 years of Acting Mayor as “interim manager,” that’s still a 14-year journey to the “manager” position.
Fuksa, on the other hand, hasn’t even been a batboy.
So what does Fuksa bring to the table in the way of grand plans or great ideas that might counter-balance, even slightly, his having been MIA from every aspect of local government since his days as a student at Maine South?
We’ll talk about that in our next post.
Update (03.24.17) We must correct our statement that Mr. Fuksa has been “MIA for his career as a Park Ridge resident.”
In April 2011 he and his wife appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals seeking a zoning variance for a pergola that was six feet too close to the home they had purchased six months earlier even thought the property had no full certificate of occupancy and the pergola had been built by the previous owner without a permit. The ZBA denied the variance.
So his MIA status has been only in connection with City issues unrelated to his own direct personal interest.
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