I am in wonder at this guys humility…he is such a competitor that he “knew” where he was in the pecking order…but is such a humble man…so extraordinary and worthy of all of the discussion.
ATLANTA – [b]While the baseball world continues to marvel at his accomplishments, Greg Maddux seems much more interested in finding ways to help today’s current players benefit from some of the instruction and knowledge he gained during his legendary Major League career.
Since spending the last of his 23 big league seasons with the Padres and Dodgers in 2008, Maddux has assumed a number of different roles. He’s currently employed by the Rangers as a special assistant to the general manager, a role he previously held with the Cubs. Earlier this year, he proudly served as Team USA’s pitching coach in the World Baseball Classic.
Through these endeavors, which allow him to work with pitchers that may have once idolized him, Maddux has simply attempted to provide the same kind of guidance he received from those managers and pitching coaches – most notably Dick Pole and Leo Mazzone – who helped mold him as he compiled the eighth-most wins (355) in Major League history.
“You coach and teach from your past experiences,” Maddux said. “I know the things Leo taught me and Dick Pole and Bobby Cox and all of these guys, it gets passed down a little bit to the players I’ve been around the last couple of years, and hopefully it helps them. That’s the goal now. You help a player here and there and try to get their career jump-started. You don’t think a whole lot about what you have done in the past. You’re just kind of focused on what you’re doing now and living your life the best way possible.”
While Maddux has never been one to bring attention to himself or his accomplishments, he understands he will likely once again become the focus of the baseball world on Jan. 8, when the 2014 Hall of Fame class is unveiled.
This year marks the first in which Maddux has been eligible for induction, and he seems to be a near-certainty to gain the honor of being a first-ballot electee.
A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from Baseball Writers’ Association of America members to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. No players reached that threshold in 2013. Second baseman Craig Biggio (68.2 percent), starting pitcher Jack Morris (67.7 percent) and first baseman Jeff Bagwell (59.6 percent) are the top returning vote-getters from last year’s ballot. Another potential first-ballot selectee this year is Maddux’s longtime Braves teammate Tom Glavine.
July’s induction ceremony in Cooperstown could include a strong Braves presence. There is a chance that Maddux and Glavine will be inducted at the same time as longtime Atlanta skipper Cox, who joins Tony La Russa and Joe Torre as the three legendary managers eligible for induction via the results of the ballots cast by a 16-man Expansion Era Veterans Committee.
The Veterans Committee results will be announced on Dec. 9, during the first day of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
“Those guys were a big part of my baseball career, both Bobby and Glav,” Maddux said. “To be able to share something with them again would be that much more special. You’re always rooting for the best for your teammates and your ex-teammates. Whatever happens, happens. I’ll be happy for both of them regardless of what happens. Just to be considered is an honor.”
Maddux went 355-227 with a 3.16 ERA over 740 career starts. Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Pete Alexander, Christy Mathewson, Warren Spahn, Pud Galvin and Kid Nichols are the only pitchers who have recorded more wins. Spahn is the only member of this group who began pitching after the 1930 season.
When Maddux was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2009, Cox said, “I get asked all the time if he was the best pitcher I ever saw. Was he the smartest pitcher I ever saw? The most competitive I ever saw? The best teammate I ever saw? The answer is ‘Yes’ to all of those.”
Maddux began his legendary career with the Cubs in 1986 and won the first of his four National League Cy Young Awards while still in Chicago for the 1992 season. The cerebral right-hander came to Atlanta via free agency before the start of the 1993 season and continued to prove to be the Senior Circuit’s top pitcher each of the next three years.
Maddux became the first pitcher to win four consecutive Cy Young Awards – an accomplishment that has since been matched by Randy Johnson. He compiled an incredible 1.98 ERA during the 124 starts he totaled during that four-year stretch.
During the strike-shortened 1994 season, Maddux went 16-6 with a 1.56 ERA – the second-lowest mark recorded in a season since the mound was lowered in 1969. The next year, he went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and helped the Braves win the World Series.
“Winning that World Series and getting that ring definitely stands out, probably more than anything,” Maddux said. “Just being able to play the game as long as I did. I was very fortunate to play all of those years, stay away from injury and just live the dream for 20 years. I think that stands out more than anything.”
After spending 11 seasons with the Braves, Maddux returned to the Cubs and remained with his original club before being traded to the Dodgers midway through the 2006 season. He joined the Padres in 2007 and remained with them until being traded to Los Angeles to experience the final months of his career in 2008.
“I was fortunate to have played on different teams and be around a lot of coaches and managers,” Maddux said. “You kind of take something from everybody. It’s a nice luxury to have.”[/b]