Behind The Scenes

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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