Tampa, Florida-- He's small, cute and mischievous. He sneaks around Tropicana Field and watches over his beloved Rays. He brings smiles to kids' faces and is returning to the Trop this weekend.
He's the Joe Gnome. Actually, "Gnome Squared" if you asked the man he's modeled after.
Joe Maddon is one of the most likeable men in baseball. The Rays' manger is easy-going and very approachable. He's also had a mini lawn gnome made in his image twice this season to give away to fans.
"I'm sorry about that", he told reporters, jokingly on Wednesday.
Maybe he shouldn't be apologizing. The Joe Gnome is so popular with Rays fans that the team has decided to do a second giveaway this weekend. On Saturday, August 3, the first 10,000 fans get the memorable keepsake.
In a season full of giveaways that's featured retro bobbleheads, Ben Zobrist utility belts and commemorative photos, the Joe Gnome stands out as one of the more unique freebies in baseball.
This week, before making his return to the Trop, the Gnome got a chance to sit down with Maddon for a man-to-lawn ornament chat.