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07/17/09 11:50 PM ET

Maddon honored with C.I. Taylor Award

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum recognizes Rays skipper

KANSAS CITY -- Nearly nine months after the Rays' run to the World Series in 2008 concluded and more than halfway into the '09 season, manager Joe Maddon is still collecting accolades for guiding Tampa Bay to its best season in franchise history.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City presented Maddon with the C.I. Taylor Award on Friday, recognizing him as the American League's top skipper in 2008.

The award is one of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum's Legacy Awards, which honor baseball's very best in the name of legendary Negro Leaguers such as Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell and Buck O'Neil.

Maddon had a conflict when the museum held its formal awards banquet in January, so the Rays skipper took time to tour the museum and accept his award Friday before the Rays began their three-game series against the Royals.

"I don't think most of America's baseball fans understand what the Negro Leagues were all about," Maddon said. "I really don't think Major League Baseball players fully understand it. I would be curious to know how many players that come to the Kansas City area really come out and see this."

Before accepting the award, Maddon and his coaching staff slowly wound their way around the museum as Bob Kendrick, the museum's vice president of marketing, shared stories about Paige, O'Neil, former Kansas City Monarch Jackie Robinson and the role the Negro Leagues played in planting the seeds for the American Civil Rights Movement.

"It truly is educational and inspirational," Maddon said.

Maddon, who said the award will have a special place in his home, credited his coaching staff for the Rays' success in 2008 and then presented the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with a donation check on behalf of the Tampa Bay organization.

Kendrick said he was elated that Maddon took the time to visit the museum while in town.

Rays left fielder Carl Crawford, a previous winner of the Cool Papa Bell Award for being the AL stolen-base leader in 2003, has also visited the museum.

Third baseman Evan Longoria was a recipient of the Larry Doby Rookie of the Year Award for his 2008 performance.

"When a young baseball player comes in here, they're absolutely blown away," Kendrick said. "No. 1, they're blown away that there were these great baseball players that they never knew anything about that could really play.

"When they go through and witness the social adversity that these athletes endured, it hits home. It gives them an appreciation for what others have done to make this the great country that it is."

This was the ninth year of the Legacy Awards program. Other winners included the Cubs' Lou Piniella as the C.I. Taylor Award winner for being the National League manager of the year, Justin Morneau and Albert Pujols each won the Oscar Charleston MVP Award, and Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Howard both took home Josh Gibson Awards for leading their respective leagues in home runs.

Rustin Dodd is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.