Greg Maddux got elected to the Hall of Fame today after receiving 97.2% of the vote – good for 8th all time. Obviously he’ll be enshrined in a Braves hat. Well aware of the fact. But he did spend the better part of 10 seasons with the Cubs, so it’s only fair that we pay our respect and reflect on his awesomeness. We can start by looking at some of his career accomplishments (spoiler alert – they’re pretty fucking impressive):
- Pitched 5,000 innings over 23 seasons
- Won 4 consecutive Cy Youngs from ’92-’95
- Won 18 Gold Gloves
- Selected to 8 All Star Games
- Finished in the top 5 of MVP voting twice
- Received MVP votes in 4 other seasons
- Won 15 games over 17 consecutive seasons
- Won 355 career games over his career, 2nd most (to Warren Spahn) since 1920
- One of 10 pitchers to win 300 games and record 3,000 strikeouts
- Lead the NL in innings pitched for 5 straight seasons from ’91-’95
- Posted a 2.09 World Series ERA over 38 innings
- Lead the entire NL (not just pitchers) in WAR in ’92 (9.4), ’94 (8.7) and ’95 (9.6)
- Finished top 5 in WHIP in the NL for 10 straight years from ’91-‘01
- Started the 4th most games (740) in NL history
- Consistently raw-dogged his jersey 3 buttons deep throughout the later part of his career
Now, I can sit here and talk about his pin-point control and how awesome his numbers are and what it means to the blah blah blah. Fuck that noise. You want to crack stick to graphs and charts and historical comparisons then you’re in the wrong place. Maddux’s greatness is so much bigger than that. You’re talking about a guy who once threw a 75 pitch complete game shutout then left without showering or talking to the media because “I have a tee-time at Augusta that I cannot miss.” He once gave up a homerun (solo job while up 5) to Jeff Bagwell because he knew in two-months they would face the Astros in the playoffs and he wanted Bagwell to be cocky in the postseason. He went on to hold Bagwell hitless in that series. Then there’s the time he blindfolded the catcher during a bullpen session just to check his command. The result? 10 pitches and just 3 passed balls.
Of all the stories though, nothing embodies Greg Maddux quite like my all-time personal favorite, and this one comes from a buddy who was with the Padres in spring training at the time… Maddux is slated to pitch a few innings in an inter-squad game a few weeks into spring training, and whoever is supposed to catch is out with an injury so they bring up some minor leaguer for the game. Catcher goes up to Maddux before they start warming up and asks him, “What do you throw?” Maddux replied, “Strikes.” The catcher laughed and asked him again. Maddux responded, “Wait you mean you’re going to try and call a game for me? Forget it kid. Just pick a spot, put your glove up, and I’ll throw a strike there.” Maddux proceeds to throw three scoreless with no wild pitches or passed balls despite the catcher NOT KNOWING WHAT WAS COMING. On his way back to the clubhouse the catcher stopped Maddux and the following exchange ensued:
Catcher: Great job man
Maddux: Yeah arm feels pretty good
Catcher: When’s the last time you threw?
Maddux: Game 3
Catcher: Oh in the simulated games last week?
Maddux: What in the fuck are you talking about simulated games?
Catcher: You said game 3
Maddux: Yeah. Of the National League Division Series. Last year. Game 3.
Maddux: Offseason rookie. Get some golf clubs and learn to love it.
Simply does not get more big league than that.