Greg Maddux, Redux: A Look Back at a Pitching Favorite
With 3,371 strikeouts and a stellar record of accolades, Maddux's strength as a pitching ace was matched by the fact that he was a great teammate and such a likable guy, contributing to so many teams over 22 years in baseball.
Here's a look back at the "Mad Dog", who retired three short years ago.
Maddux and His First Cubs Years
Gregory Alan "Greg" Maddux, born April 14, 1966 in Texas, also spent part of his life growing up in Spain and Las Vegas as well.
He was part of the 1984 draft and didn't debut for the Cubs until 1986 at age 20, which made him (at the time) the youngest player to debut in the Major Leagues. His first appearance was not as a pitcher, but as a pinch runner.
His first full season, in 1987, was a rough one with only five wins and a 5.61 ERA; but come 1988 Maddux improved remarkably to 3.18 and an 18 - 8 win-loss record.
1988 began the first of a 17-year stretch of 15-plus win seasons, and it was only the beginning.
Maddux Moves to Atlanta
After bagging his first Cy Young award in 1992, contract talks became a mish-mash with the Cubs, eventually leading to an unproductive standstill. Down south, Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner had other plans, appointing Bobby Cox to turn things around, starting with the pitching staff.
Maddux moved to the Atlanta Braves as part of a 5-year, $28 million deal. He made his debut for the Braves at Wrigley Field with a 1-0 win against the Cubs.
Four Consecutive Cy Young Awards, and Then Some
Under Bobby Cox, the Braves -- a former laughing stock of the National League-- become a pitching and hitting powerhouse with Maddux's help alongside Tom Glavine, and sluggers like Chipper Jones.
Greg Maddux spends his first three seasons in Atlanta acquiring three more Cy Young awards. Within a decade with the Braves, from 1993 to 2003, Atlanta goes to the World Series three times and wins in 1995.
During the 1995 season, Maddux went 19–2 and became the first pitcher to post back-to-back ERAs under 1.80 since Walter Johnson in 1919.
In a decade Maddux his mark as a future Hall of Famer.
Back to Chicago
The front office and fans at Wrigley Field welcomed free agent Maddux back in 2004, to help shore up a decent Cubs pitching staff.
In July 2005, Maddux became the thirteenth member of the 3000 strikeout club, also collecting over 300 wins and fewer than 1,000 walks.
Still, as a role player for the Cubs at age 39, 2005 saw Maddux's first losing season since his first, as the Cubs finished 4th in their division.
Still, Maddux's staying power, skill and style were in demand in Major League Baseball.
Maddux off to L.A.
Greg Maddux's second stint with the Cubs lasted until mid-season in 2006. He was then traded for the first time in his career, to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In August of '06, Maddux passed Phillies legend Steve Carleton with 330 career wins, and a month later helped the Dodgers book a playoff spot.
While in LA, Maddux would also help the Cubs one last time, by beating the Milwaukee Brewers, eliminating them from a contentious playoff race against the Cubs.
Southbound to San Diego & Back Again
After the baseball season in 2006, Maddux signed a reported $10 million deal with the San Diego Padres and after the 2007 season, exercised an option for a second year. He pitched reasonably well and took his spot at ninth on the all-time wins list in Major League Baseball during his time there.
Later in '08, Maddux was traded back to the Dodgers and later announced his retirement a month after the 2008 World Series.
Reluctant Hero, Retired Ace
Today, Greg Maddux plays a role developing pitchers for the Chicago Cubs, after signing on in early 2011 as an assistant to the Cubs' general manager.
In both Atlanta and Chicago, Maddux is regarded as a fan favorite not only for his magical pitching, but also as a cool, calm and collected team player on the field and a leader in the club house.
Maddux was also voted by The Sporting News as the "Best Pitcher of the 1990s" and when informed of this, he supposedly insisted that the accolade should have gone to his teammates in Atlanta, either Tom Glavine of John Smoltz.
In 2009, both the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs retired his jersey and squad number #31.
Andy Frye writes about sports, fans and sports legends in Chicago. You can follow his sports musings on Twitter at @MySportsComplex.