Maddux, Greg(ory) Alan

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MADDUX, Greg(ory) Alan

(b. 14 April 1966 in San Angelo, Texas), National League baseball pitcher who won four straight Cy Young awards.

As a child, Maddux frequently moved with his family because his father, Dave, served in the U.S. Air Force. He played Little League in Spain. When his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, Maddux starred at Valley High School, was twice named All-State, and graduated in 1984. His older brother, Michael, had already signed a professional baseball contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Maddux was chosen in the second round of the 1984 draft by the Chicago Cubs. He distinguished himself at every level of minor league ball during his three years in the Cubs organization. He won thirty-six games and compiled a 2.86 earned run average (ERA).

Maddux was called up to the major leagues in September 1986 and the next year became a fixture in the Cubs rotation. He played with the Cubs for the next six years, establishing himself as one of the premier pitchers in the National League. He won 90 games, lost 75, and had three years of above 15 wins. In 1989 he led the Cubs to the playoffs against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants defeated the Cubs, and Maddux suffered one loss in his first post-season series.

During the 1992 season Maddux claimed a spot among the elite pitchers of the major leagues. He not only won twenty games for the Cubs but also hurled four shutouts, had a 2.18 ERA, and won his third straight Golden Glove as a fielding pitcher. He was rewarded with his first Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the National League and was picked as an All-Star. Following the season Maddux tested the free agent market and eventually signed with the defending National League champion Atlanta Braves. From 1992 until 2001 the Braves and Maddux appeared in the postseason every year except the strike-shortened 1994 season.

John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Maddux formed one of the most effective pitching staffs in modern baseball history. Maddux won three more Cy Young Awards (1993–1995) as a Brave, Glavine won two, and Smoltz one. No other pitcher in major league history had won four consecutive Cy Young awards. During that four-year period Maddux won 75 games, had an ERA of 1.97, and pitched 11 shutouts and 37 complete games. Considering that both the 1994 and 1995 seasons were shorter because of labor disputes, the achievement is even more remarkable. In addition, he allowed only thirty-three home runs during those four seasons.

As of the end of the 2001 season, Maddux had won fifteen or more games each year in fourteen consecutive years. Only two other pitchers in major league history, Cy Young and Gaylord Perry, achieved that feat. Maddux had accumulated 257 wins in his career by the end of the 2001 season. As an example of his consistency with the Atlanta Braves, from 1993 through 2001 he walked only 278 batters in 1,876 innings. He is famous for pitching in games that last less than two hours, and he has numerous complete games in which he threw fewer than ninety pitches.

Maddux has had remarkable streaks. During 2000 he pitched 30.33 consecutive scoreless innings and went thirty-two straight innings without issuing a walk. Twice in 1997 he went over thirty consecutive innings without issuing a walk. In 2001 he set a National League record by exceeding sixty-eight walkless innings. As a fielder he won ten straight Golden Glove Awards and has made more putouts than any pitcher in major league history. He also holds the record for consecutive victories on the road, pitching eighteen from late 1994 through the end of 1995. During the years 1994 and 1995 he won 35 games, lost 8, and had 10 complete games and 3 shutouts each year. In 1994 his ERA, at 1.56, was 1.09 below the second-place finisher, Steve Ontiveros of the Oakland A's. That set a major league record for the greatest spread in a single season. From 1992 to 1997 he had the lowest ERA, 2.14, for a six-year span of any pitcher since World War II. Maddux pitched over 200 innings for thirteen straight years, which is the most among active pitchers. His average ERA for 1994 and 1995 was 1.60, the lowest in modern baseball history for successive years. Another amazing Maddux statistic is that by the end of the 2001 season, he had not yet been placed on the disabled list during his major league career.

The Braves were in the postseason repeatedly, although they won the World Series only in 1995. As of 2001 Maddux had made twenty-nine appearances in the Division, League, and World Championship series, posting ten wins and thirteen losses. His World Series record is two wins and three losses, with a 2.09 ERA. His two-hit complete-game victory in game one of the 1995 World Series was his best postseason outing. The Braves won 3–2, and both runs against Maddux were unearned. The next year Maddux defeated the Yankees 4–0 in game two of the World Series, when he pitched a six-hitter for eight innings, but he lost game six 3–2.

In eight of his seasons Maddux has been selected as an All-Star for the summer classic. His first selection came as a Chicago Cub when he was only twenty-two years old. He has never been involved in an All-Star decision.

Maddux's career statistics put him on a direct route to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His win-loss percentage, four straight Cy Young Awards, ten Golden Gloves, postseason play, and career ERA all make him worthy of induction. In all probability he will attain the 300-victory milestone as well. His durability and consistency also give him top consideration.

In addition, Maddux has earned the admiration of his peers. Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres said of him, "He's like a meticulous surgeon out there.… He puts the ball where he wants to. You see a pitch inside and wonder, 'Is it the fastball or the cutter?' That's where he's got you." Maddux's pitching coach, Leo Mazzone, said, "He drives himself tremendously when he does his work on the side. If he is off target just a couple of inches, he gets very angry. It's something he takes a great deal of pride in." The Hall of Fame player and announcer Joe Morgan added, "I coined the phrase, Greg Maddux could put a baseball through a Lifesaver if you asked him!"

Maddux and his wife, Kathy, direct the Maddux Foundation, which supports numerous charitable activities, especially programs designed to create opportunities for youngsters. They have a son and a daughter.

Useful books about Maddux include Tom Glavine, None but the Braves: A Pitcher, a Team, a Champion (1996); Norman L. Macht, Greg Maddux (1997); and Matt Christopher, On the Mound with Greg Maddux (1997).

F. ROSS Peterson