Results tagged ‘ Greg Maddux ’
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Happy 48th birthday to the Cubs newest Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux. The Professor pitched 10 years on the North Side in two different stints, piling up a 133-112 record, a 3.61 ERA and picking up one Cy Young Award.
During his 23-year major league career, the right-hander amassed 355 wins, won four Cy Young Awards, went to eight All-Star games, led the NL in ERA and WHIP four times, and won 18 Gold Gloves. On Jan. 8, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced Maddux was headed to Cooperstown, after receiving 555 votes out of a possible 571 (97.2 percent) in his first year of eligibility.
The Cubs selected Maddux in the second round of the 1984 draft, and he made his big league debut on Sept. 3, 1986, at Wrigley Field, not as a pitcher but as a pinch-runner in the 17th inning of a game that had been suspended the previous evening after 15 innings because of darkness. He stayed in to pitch the 18th, but gave up a one-out homer to Houston’s Billy Hatcher to take the loss.
He picked up his first career win four days later against the Reds at Riverfront Stadium, pitching a complete-game, 11-3 gem. Thanks to MLB Cut4, you can watch that first win here (and revel in the 20-year-old Maddux’s glorious mustache).
If you missed our tribute to Maddux in the March issue of Vine Line, you can check it out here.
By Carrie Muskat, The following can be found in the March issue of Vine Line.
I covered Greg Maddux in 1987, his first full season with the Cubs. I remember his great 15-3 first half in ’88, his 19-win season in ’89 (capped by a victory in Montreal to clinch the division) and his first Cy Young season in ’92. I was there for his strange return to Wrigley Field in a Braves uniform and for his Chicago reunion in 2004.
Last December, it was with great pleasure that I could finally check Maddux’s name on my Hall of Fame ballot. He’s the smartest pitcher I’ve ever seen.
On Jan. 8, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced Maddux was headed to Cooperstown, after receiving 555 votes out of a possible 571 (97.2 percent) in his first year of eligibility. Players need 75 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to be elected. Mark your calendars: The ceremony will be held on July 27 in upstate New York, and Cubs fans have no excuse for not showing up.
Maddux won a Cy Young Award with the Cubs and three more with the Braves, where he also claimed a World Series title in ’95. He pitched 10 seasons in two stints with Chicago and 11 seasons in Atlanta. Though he had his best years with a tomahawk on his chest, he has chosen to go into the Hall of Fame with no logo on his plaque in a tip of the cap to his original organization.
“My wife, Kathy, and I grew up in baseball in Chicago, and then we had just an amazing experience in Atlanta with the Braves,” Maddux said in a statement. “It’s impossible for me to choose one of those teams for my Hall of Fame plaque, as the fans of both clubs in each of those cities were so wonderful.
“I can’t think of having my Hall of Fame induction without the support of both of those fan bases, so, for that reason, the cap on my Hall of Fame plaque will not feature a logo.”
I told you he was smart.
A little trivia: Maddux made his first appearance on Sept. 3, 1986, not as a pitcher but as a pinch-runner in the 17th inning of a game that had been suspended the previous evening after 15 innings because of darkness. Remember, Wrigley Field didn’t have lights until 1988. Nolan Ryan started for the Astros that day against the Cubs’ Jamie Moyer.
Maddux stayed in to pitch the 18th, but he served up a one-out home run to Houston’s Billy Hatcher to take the loss. In what would become classic Maddux fashion, he shrugged it off. Four days later, on Sept. 7, Maddux picked up his first win, an 11-3, complete-game gem against the Reds at Riverfront Stadium—the first of 109 complete games he would toss in his 23-year career.
Maddux didn’t intimidate hitters with velocity, but he dominated the NL with tremendous movement on his pitches and his vast understanding of the game. Still, it took a winter in Venezuela with pitching coach Dick Pole to convince the young right-hander not to throw as hard as he could. So what made Maddux change his approach?
“The hitters make it click with you,” Maddux said. “When you start throwing it, and they start whacking it, that’s what makes it click.”
Pole had some influence on Maddux’s decision as well. After the pitcher’s brief big league call-up in ’86, Cubs General Manager Dallas Green wanted Maddux, Pole and catcher Damon Berryhill to spend part of the winter in Venezuela to fine-tune some things. Apparently, it worked.
“I kind of understood the importance of, being at the big league level, that I needed to be able to throw my fastball to both sides of the plate, not just for a strike,” Maddux told author Alan Solomon, who wrote A Century of Wrigley Field. “I think that was the reason for the big turnaround. That and my first year, I was able to understand the importance of locating my fastball and, even more so, pitch slow. I didn’t pitch slow very good at all my first year. Then, after that, once I retaught myself how to throw my change-up with the help of Dick, things got better for me.”
Better might be an understatement. From 1988-2004, Maddux won at least 15 games in 17 consecutive seasons en route to 355 career victories.
“I knew he was going to be good when I saw him when he was young, but I didn’t know how good he was going to be,” Pole said. “If you want to find the definition of pitcher, it’s going to be Greg Maddux. It’s not stuff with him. It’s location, pitch selection, changing speeds.”
STUDENT AND TEACHER
Maddux stressed that lesson to young pitchers as well. After his playing days ended in 2008, he returned to the Cubs as a special assistant to General Manager Jim Hendry in 2010. In this position, he visited the minor league teams, often sitting on the bench with players.
On one of those days, Cubs pitcher Chris Rusin found himself next to Maddux in the dugout and asked how the future Hall of Famer got the same two-seam movement on both sides of the plate. Rusin applied Maddux’s advice in a start last July against the Giants, in which he threw seven shutout innings without any of his pitches topping 90 mph.
“[Maddux] relied on movement, and he obviously has way more movement than I do,” Rusin said. “But he could locate everything on both sides of the plate.”
It was The Professor’s cerebral approach to the game and the way he emphasized team first that earned him the respect of everyone around him.
“To me, the most amazing thing about Greg Maddux is that he’s the best student of pitching I’ve ever met,” said former teammate and current Yankees manager Joe Girardi in 2004. “He never missed a hitter on the bench. He paid more attention than other pitchers, and I think that’s what has made him so great.”
Maddux honed his baseball acumen by spending time with position players and hitting coaches to better understand how they approach pitchers. There are countless stories about how he would call pitches from the dugout during a game or warn a teammate about a foul ball that would soon be heading his way.
In 2004, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy and I combined to write a story about Maddux and his older brother, Mike, who was the Brewers’ pitching coach at the time.
“I would say it’s the same book, different covers,” Mike said of his relationship with his brother. “You might think he’s more serious than me, but get to know both of us, and we’re a lot alike. Maybe I’m more extroverted than he is.”
Said Greg of his big brother: “He’s a little bit further out there than I am. We have a lot in common—hobbies, beliefs, sense of humor, stuff like that.”
The pitching pair grew up in Madrid, Spain, where their father was stationed at a U.S. Air Force base. All the TV shows were in Spanish, so the boys would go outside and play baseball instead—and both were incredibly competitive. When the Maddux brothers played golf, they didn’t wager money on each round. Instead, the winner would give the loser a wedgie.
Another reason Maddux’s teammates respected him? He was excellent, efficient and almost always in control on the mound. On July 17, 2004, back with the Cubs for a second turn, Maddux threw a six-hit, complete-game shutout to beat the Brewers, 5-0, and 17 of the 27 outs came on ground balls.
“I’ve battled against him before, and it’s just not fair,” Milwaukee’s Dave Burba said after the game. “He has movement on everything that is unreal. Shoot, if I had stuff like that, I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I’d probably have to retire.”
“Or go to the Hall of Fame,” the Brewers’ Matt Kinney chimed in.
It was a classic Maddux performance. His take on the game? That also was vintage.
“As far as days to pitch on, this was as easy as it gets,” he said. “It was cool, the wind was blowing in, and the mistakes were hit at people.”
Reporters usually got better comments about Maddux from the opposition than from the unassuming pitcher himself. He didn’t like being the center of attention, especially as he approached his 300th win in 2004.
“For me, personally, I’d rather win 15 games and have a chance at the postseason,” he said. “That means more to me than winning 300. … It’s hard to say it’s just another game, but it is. We’ve got more important things to worry about than one guy reaching a goal. It’s not about me. It’s about us.”
Flashback to July 7, 1987, when San Diego’s Eric Show hit Andre Dawson in the face with a pitch in the third inning. Dawson had homered off Show in the first.
Maddux started that day, and Rick Sutcliffe warned the young pitcher not to retaliate. The Cubs were thinking about sending Maddux back to the minors for some seasoning, and he desperately needed the win. Instead, Maddux struck out the first two batters he faced in the fourth, then plunked the Padres’ Benito Santiago with a pitch and was ejected.
“He hit him as hard as a man can,” Sutcliffe said, retelling the story. “That tells you what that kid was made of. When he came back up [from the minors], Dawson and [Ryne] Sandberg made sure they never took a day off when he pitched.”
THE LIGHTER SIDE
Maddux was also known in the clubhouse for his pranks. Cubs fans saw his playful side when the first night game at Wrigley Field, on Aug. 8, 1988, was postponed because of rain. Al Nipper, Les Lancaster, Jody Davis and Maddux made the most of the delay and delighted rain-soaked fans by sliding on the tarp.
“I don’t know who instigated it, but I’m glad I did it,” Maddux said in his interview for the Wrigley book. “It was fun, and 20 years later, people are still talking about it.
“You know, being the first night game and everything, it started raining, and we were just kind of hanging out in the dugout, kind of enjoying the thunderstorm and the rain and all that,” Maddux said.
“You sit there long enough, I guess you start talking about some stupid things to do—and we came up with that, and we ended up doing it.”
In the offseason, even after Maddux and Pole were no longer together with the club, the pitcher would check in on his former coach or call with some obscure, off-the-wall question. Pole remembered the time when Todd Walker got his 1,000th hit, and someone threw the ball into the dugout for safekeeping.
“Why doesn’t anyone save balls from low points in their careers?” Maddux deadpanned to Pole.
The next day, Pole found a ball in his locker that was signed by Maddux, commemorating the 300th home run the pitcher had given up. Maddux also signed a ball to commemorate his 200th loss. Pole still has both of those souvenirs.
In my office, I have a black Wilson glove with Maddux’s name and “No. 300” stitched in gold. Maddux had the gloves made for teammates, coaches, friends and family after he won his 300th game on Aug. 7, 2004, in San Francisco. The Wilson rep knew I’d followed Maddux since his beginning with the Cubs, and made sure I got one too.
Before the Hall of Fame announcement in January, I checked in with Pole. He’d already sent Maddux a text to congratulate his former pupil. Maddux’s response was, “Thanks, Coach Pole, for all the tips.”
My favorite Maddux moments weren’t actually his games. When he rejoined the Cubs in 2004, he and his son, Chase, who was 10, would be in the Wrigley Field bullpen early in the morning. The ballpark was quiet, except for the grounds crew mowing the grass, and father and son would become teacher and pupil.
The day after the Hall vote was revealed, Maddux took part in a news conference in New York with Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas, who will be joining No. 31 in Cooperstown. Later, Maddux tweeted: “Pretty cool last 48 hrs!! Glad I shared it with Glav and the Big Hurt. The baseball world is awesome.”
Thanks, Greg Maddux. So are you.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The career numbers speak for themselves—a 3.16 ERA, 355 wins, 18 Gold Gloves, eight All-Star appearances and four consecutive Cy Young awards. And those are just the glamour stats.
So when the 2014 Hall of Fame class was announced Wednesday, it was no surprise Greg Maddux topped the inductee list, receiving a remarkable 97.2 percent of the vote. Maddux was picked on 555 of 571 ballots submitted by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the eighth-highest total in voting history and the third-highest for any pitcher.
Despite a wiry 6-foot, 170-pound frame, “The Professor”—as he was known for his vast understanding of the game and ability to dissect the plate with pinpoint accuracy—was one of the most dominating pitchers of his era, and one of the best of all time.
Maddux is the 51st former Cubs player, manager or executive to earn induction. After 23 big league seasons, he retired in December 2008 as the eighth winningest pitcher in the history of the game with 355 wins, 133 coming in his 10 seasons on the North Side. He won the first of his four Cy Young awards with the Cubs in 1992, going 20-11 with a 2.18 ERA in 35 starts.
A second-round pick in the 1984 draft, Maddux went 133-112 with a 3.61 ERA in his two stints with the Cubs (1986-92, 2004-06). Two of his eight All-Star appearances were in a Cubs uniform, as were six of his 18 Gold Glove awards.
“I join my family, the Cubs organization and Cubs fans in congratulating Greg on this tremendous honor,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. “He is one of the greatest pitchers of all time and a tremendous competitor who earned the nickname ‘Mad Dog’ whenever he took the mound. Greg’s near-unanimous selection to Baseball’s Hall of Fame is the ultimate salute to an extraordinary career.”
On May 3, 2009, the Cubs retired Maddux’s No. 31 jersey, making his number (which he shares with fellow Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins) the fifth to be retired by the organization.
Joining Maddux in the 2014 class were former Braves teammate Tom Glavine and White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.
Continuing the intensive interview process to find the next manager, the Cubs talked to current Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux over the last two days. The elder brother of former Cubs pitcher Greg then fielded questions from the media about family, key decisions facing the club and working with the new front office. Click the image above for another Vine Line video inside the manager search, and subscribe for your insider’s pass to the new era at Wrigley Field.
MESA, Ariz.–In 1987, after Andre Dawson got plunked by the Padres’ Eric Show, a young Greg Maddux was told not to retaliate. If he did, he’d be on the first bus back to Triple A.
Still just trying earn his keep at the big-league level, Maddux did not heed those words and uncorked a fastball at Benito Santiago. He wasn’t sent down right away, but he did earn respect.
“It’s all about the team,” he told me, when recalling that story a couple of years ago.
On Monday, the man who probably will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball history took his turn….throwing batting practice.
It was very non-descript. I’m not sure anyone else saw it. And in his illustrious career, it was the FIRST time he had ever done it. He’s thrown BP to his kids before, but all these years he’s been in camp as a player and never done it.
In the cage were three young catchers–Robinson Chrinios, Blake Lalli and Steve Clevenger. All three probably hadn’t been born or at least were toddlers when Maddux plunked that guy nearly 23 years ago.
There might be a little paunch to his middle these days, but excuse the guy for enjoying himself a little after spending more than two decades winning 355 games, throwing over 5,000 innings and striking out 3,371 men.
“The game gave me more than I could ever want or ever hope for,” Maddux said. “It’s just nice to be back in it and try and give back and help the players and team. That’s what it’s all about. You help the players, hopefully the team wins more games.”
He was huffing and puffing a little bit out there. “Yeah, throwing BP let’s you know how out of shape you are,” he laughed. “It’s OK for the first 10 minutes, then toward the end you’re sucking wind.”
After the session was over I spied Clevenger packing up his bat and helmet. It was then he gave a quick glance out to the mound. While Maddux was picking up balls–just like any other guy–Clevenger shook his head and smiled a big ol’ grin as if to say, “Man, that was pretty cool. I hit BP off of Greg Maddux.”
“Well, hopefully these young guys realize they are good enough to be in the big leagues,” Maddux said. “I hope they understand to work hard to be successful. Because what this game can do for you and your family is incredible, so they should take advantage of that.”
NOTES FROM THE DAY 2:
– Carlos Silva pitched for the first time. He looked decent. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild encouraged him to drive more off his back leg.
– Geovany Soto returned to action, looking fit and solid.
– During double play drills and infield practice, it was amazing to see how smooth Andres Blanco is at shortstop.
– Rookie Starlin Castro looked good during live BP, raking several John Grabow offerings into left field. Line drives, not flyballs, mind you.
– Xavier Nady sat out outfield cutoff drills because of his arm, on which he had Tommy John surgery last year. He stood next to manager Lou Piniella, talking about angles of pursuit.
– It was the “Carlos Show” with Silva and both Zambrano and Marmol throwing live BP. Both looked good, throwing hard and crisp.
Vine Line subscribers will read more of this Greg Maddux interview in the coming months in Vine Line and its new landing page on cubs.com, soon to debut this month.The page will include stories from the current month’s issue, a photo gallery from Steve Green and video from spring training and Wrigley Field, during the season.
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“We couldn’t be happier,” said Cubs GM Jim Hendry, announcing the return of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux to the Cubs. Except this time, “Mad Dog” will be barking up a new tree.
Maddux was named a special assistant to the general manager today and is set to take on three roles within the organization: working with coaches during spring training, aiding the in-season development of Cubs minor-leaguers, and evaluating talent for the baseball operations staff.
“He’ll certainly be involved in all aspects of the baseball operations department,” Hendry said. “As I’ve always said about him in the past, as a player and now as an employee, when Greg Maddux walks in your front door, your organization became a lot better that day.”
The eighth-winningest pitcher in baseball history with 355 victories, Maddux was drafted by the Cubs in the second round of the 1984 draft. He went 133-112 with a 3.61 ERA during his two stints with the Cubs, from 1986-92 and 2004-06.
Now he gets to return to the organization, continuing his demonstrated ability to instruct and mentor players. He also is ready to take on a new challenge.
“I’ll learn how to evaluate players the best I can,” Maddux said. “I’m sure there’s a system that goes along with that. Hopefully, I’ll have an eye for it and will be able to evaluate players properly.”
Hendry’s strong relationship with Maddux paid off in bringing the Las Vegas resident back to Chicago.
“I’m looking forward to getting back with [Hendry] and working with him and learning from him and the people around him, and doing what I can to help the players on the field and the organization,” Maddux said.
– Sean Ahmed
Vine Line has tons of new content for 2010, including our revamped alumni section “Glory Days” that brings you closer than ever to Cubs legends. Subscribe today!
Wrigley Field is abuzz with the presence of one current Hall of Famer, Fergie Jenkins, and one sure-fire future one, Greg Maddux. Their uniform No. 31 will be retired in a pregame ceremony starting at 12:40 p.m.
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 6.92 ERA) pitches for the Marlins.
If you’ll be at the ballpark on Sunday, make sure you grab your Scorecard EXTRA early. Check out this sneak peak from our head designer, Juan Castillo. He put together this commemorative scorecard cover for the Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux No. 31 jersey retirement.
Not only will it be a great collector’s item, but there also are some neat stories on the two inside the wrap. The feature article — “A tale of two No. 31s” — illustrates how appropriate it is that Jenkins’ and Maddux’s separate paths will intersect this weekend.
Wrigley fun run
A couple dozen of us from the front office represented the Cubs at Saturday’s Race to Wrigley 5K. Congrats to our community affairs department for selling out the event, with 6,500 participants in all.
Eamonn Prizy, 18, was the fastest male runner (16:10), and Kelly Shuma, 24, led all women. Good weather, great turnout and some fantastic Cubs spirit for an event that will benefit Chicago Cubs Charities.
I was looking through photos from our opening homestand today, and I found this one of Ryan Theriot in front of a new amenity in the Wrigley Field home dugout. No more big orange jug! Though that might make it difficult for the players to do a celebratory Gatorate dump over Lou’s head …
– Sean Ahmed
One of the best pitchers ever to step on a mound retired today. Greg Maddux called it a career today. His brother Mike might have been the older more scouted player out of high school, but Greg was the one for whom his father said to a bevy scouts watching Mike: “You’ll be back for my little one in a couple of years.”
The thing I remember most about Maddux while he was in his second tour with the team was you never knew exactly whether he was being straight with you or messing with you. During interviews, he had a small smirk, but I couldn’t tell if he was nearly ready to bust out laughing because I was eating up everything he said, or if he simply was enjoying the conversation.
He kept you guessing by the look on his face and his demeanor–completely neutral, no expression of emotion. Perhaps that’s why he was a scratch golfer. Perhaps that’s why he was the one guy Ryan Dempster said DO NOT play cards with or else you’ll lose your shirt (forget the fact he was from Las Vegas). Maddux looks indifferent to everything, and only allowed an occasional outburst on the mound when he gave up a home run. That was it.
Perhaps that’s why he was one of the best. Good luck “Mad Dog.” It was a pleasure watching you pitch.
The following “Leading Off” column was written in 2004, shortly after Greg Maddux made his first attempt at winning his 300th game.
– Michael Huang
It’s all about the team
In early July, hours before an anxious crowd would file into the cavernous confines of Miller Park, all that could be heard were the echoes of horsehide hitting Northern White Ash.
Watching the Brewers take infield practice, Greg Maddux sat in the visitors’ dugout talking to a couple of reporters. Walking by the dugout was Brewers third baseman Wes Helms, with whom Maddux had been teammates in Atlanta. Maddux immediately halted his answer in mid-sentence.
“How are you, Wesley?” Maddux inquired. Helms nodded in respect, then continued on.
“Good kid. I wish they could have made some room for him in Atlanta.”
About a month later, on Aug. 1, 2004, Maddux made his first attempt at becoming the 22nd pitcher in baseball history to record career win No. 300. Quiet and unassuming, Maddux has fashioned a Hall of Fame career underscored by understatement because that’s the way he likes it. As win No. 300 loomed, he said: “We’ve got more things to worry about besides No. 300. The post-season means more than my 300th win.”
Perhaps it was only fitting then, with Maddux on the cusp of baseball history, his news took a back seat. A day earlier, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had engineered a blockbuster trade bringing five-time All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra from Fenway Park to Wrigley Field. Even Garciaparra had to remind the media besieging him that there still was another story.
“I think [Maddux's 300th] should be the focus of today, more than anything,” Garciaparra demurred. “I felt bad coming in. There’s a bigger issue here.”
And to anyone else, going for win No. 300 would’ve been a big issue.
To Maddux, it was just another game. “I’m just going to do what I do–go out and pitch and try not to get caught up in it.”