Maddon on hand to dedicate HIP playground

Maddon on hand to dedicate HIP playground

Cubs manager Joe Maddon went home to Hazleton, Pa., on Thursday to open a playground as part of his Hazleton Integration Project.

"Back in the day, the playground system here in Hazleton was really vibrant," Maddon said at the dedication ceremony. "I know there has to be parental concern, but there has to be a way to get them outside and interact, and a playground is a great place to start.

"I'm all about technology, don't get me wrong -- but we have to get the kids off their devices and get them into the sunshine, encourage interaction, get them to socialize," he said. "It's such an important component to being a human being."

The Hazleton Integration Project is a community-based effort that seeks to unite the people of different cultures who call the Pennsylvania town home. The main focus of HIP is to sustain a community center geared at economically disadvantaged youth and adults.

Maddon took advantage of the off-day on Thursday to go to Hazleton to see his mother, Beanie, and take part in ribbon cutting for the playground at the Hazleton One Center.

"I haven't been home this time of year in a long time," Maddon said. "It's nice to get back and feel the Pennsylvania summer, especially to be here for this opening. Hopefully, this will be such a positive experience for the kids that we can build another one and another one.

"The bottom line is that kids do not get outside enough, they do not participate enough," he said. "Let's get them in a setting such as this where they can have face-to-face conversations."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.