|Greg Maddux Retires From Pitching|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on December 12, 2008
After 23 seasons Greg Maddux finally hung up his spikes.Â Â Maddux saying goodbye almost seemed to be overlooked in the media frenzy over pitcher CC Sabathia and the current crop of free agents; it was almost like the future first ballot Hall of Famer was sneaking out the back door for all of the attention that his retirement was given.
And in many ways that epitomizes Madduxâ€™s career.Â He never was the flashy, outspoken media hound but rather a quietly efficient pitcher that made his reputation with a combination of quality stuff and brains.Â Even during his glory years, Maddux didnâ€™t seek the spotlight and thanks to fellow aces like John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Rick Sutcliffe he could concentrate on pitching rather than being the public face of an organization.
And pitch he did - racking up 355 wins, including 17 consecutive 15+ win seasons, 3,371 strikeouts, 4 consecutive Cy Young Award winning seasons and 18 Gold Gloves over a 23 year span.Â On the record books heâ€™ll be remembered as the second winningest pitcher since the 1920s when the â€śdead ballâ€ť was finally phased out of the game.
But itâ€™s the unofficial accolades that tell you how good Maddux really was including quotes from Hall of Famer Wade Boggs who said of Maddux, "It seems like he's inside your mind with you. When he knows you're not going to swing, he throws a straight one. He sees into the future. It's like he has a crystal ball hidden inside his glove."Â Others like Orel Hershiser, said that â€śMaddux could throw a ball inside a teacupâ€ť commenting on the precision and control that allowed him to dominate for years and years - even after the best of his stuff had faded.
And the media agreed.Â The Sporting News voted him the best pitcher of the 1990â€™s and ranked him 39th on the list of all time greatest players in 1999.
While his best years were split between the Cubs and Braves, Maddux moved to the west coast for his last two and a half seasons splitting time between the Dodgers and Padres, who looked to the elder statesman to help their young pitchers and add a bit of stability to their rotations.
In their playoff run this season the Dodger credited Maddux as being the key to the teamâ€™s success - but the staff, coaches and even Joe Torre all noted that the improvements to Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley came just about the same time that Maddux joined the team.
That bodes well if Maddux wishes to continue in baseball now that his pitching career is over.Â Many think heâ€™ll be a great coach or manager down the road - after all Maddux was never the guy that ducked into the locker room or went for treatment while his teammates were on the field.Â He stayed and watched the game, learned from it, and offered his insights if he thought they would help his team.
Perhaps his greatest trait and one echoed by every manager that he ever played for was that he was a true team guy - something that seems far too rare in the game today.Â
For those of us that love the game Maddux was a kindred spirit.Â Someone whose passion for baseball showed through when we saw him on the mound, on the bench or in the post game interviews.Â His presence will be missed, by the fans, by managers and by fellow players, but all of us wish him well in his retirement.Â And when heâ€™s ready, weâ€™ll be here with open arms for coach Maddux to return to the game.