American baseball player
Greg Maddux's record speaks for itself: he is simply one of the best pitchers ever to play the position. The first player ever to win four consecutive Cy Young
Awards, he also shines defensively, as evidenced by his 13 consecutive Golden Glove Awards since 1990. In 2002, Maddux posted 16 wins, becoming only the second player after Cy Young to record fifteen or more wins for fifteen consecutive years. After retiring, Maddux is almost assured a spot in the Hall of Fame. At 6 foot 180 pounds, Maddux is not a powerhouse pitcher; his fastballs rarely reach 90 miles per hour. Yet he is a craftsman in the art of changing pitches and speeds to confuse hitters. Maddux uses a wide variety of pitches such as his cut fastball, slider, and circle change up with pinpoint accuracy to stay ahead of the count. One of his strengths lies in forcing hitters to hit ground balls by pitching to the lower part of the strike zone. Like most of his fellow Braves pitchers, Maddux is a respectable hitter at the plate.
Born on April 14, 1966, Maddux spent most of his childhood in Madrid, Spain, where his father, Dave, was stationed with the Air Force. Dave Maddux taught his son to throw and encouraged him to play baseball. When Greg was ten his family moved back to the States. They had the good fortune to be stationed in Las Vegas where Ralph Medar, a retired major-league scout, was developing young baseball talent in the area. Greg's older brother Mike spent Sundays practicing under Medar's watchful eye. However, Dave Maddux was anxious to show Medar his younger son's arm. After a month of attending Sunday practices with Mike, Dave urged Mr. Medar to let Greg play. Watching Greg throw his first pitch Medar said, "I don't know where the boy got those mechanics, but let me tell you this: Don't let anybody change those mechanics. He is going to be something."
Medar was a careful and thoughtful coach who saw a pitching future for Maddux. Rather than teaching Greg to throw a curveball, which can seriously injure young arms, he showed him how to throw a changeup at the age of 13. Sports Illustrated quoted Medar counseling Maddux that, "The changeup is not going to be a good pitch against high school hitters - you could just throw your fastball and get most of them out - but down the line a good changeup is harder to hit than any other pitch." However, Maddux was doubtful that he would ever make it as a major league pitcher and told Sports Illustrated that at the age of 15 he preferred hitting.
Nevertheless, Medar was convinced that Maddux's true talent was pitching. He told the young player, "You're probably never going to throw hard enough to overpower people." Then he showed Maddux the pitch that would eventually bring him overwhelming success in the major leagues, a fastball with sidearm delivery created by gripping only two of the baseball's seams rather than the usual four. It is not the fastest fastball, reaching only an unremarkable 87 miles per hour, but tends to veer away from left-handed batters in an unpredictable way. Sadly, Medar died before Maddux graduated high school and never got to see him deliver the pitch against major league hitters.
Getting His Start
Although he was an all-state baseball player in both his junior and senior years of high school, there were not many offers on the table at graduation time. The agent Scott Boras who wanted to represent Maddux advised him to go to college. The Chicago Cubs had made him a second-round draft choice and offered him a signing bonus. Maddux took their offer and vowed not to touch the money until he made the major leagues.
Maddux started in the rookie league with Pikesville in 1984, where he won six games and lost three with an earned-run average of 2.63. He pitched two shutouts during the twelve starts he made that year. In 1985, Maddux pitched 13 wins in 27 starts and 186 innings for Peoria in the Midwest League and made the league All-Star Team.
The Youngest Cub
On September 1, 1986 Maddux was called up to the Cubs. On his first day in the dugout as a major league player he was mistaken for a batboy. Cubs manager Gene Michael recalled the scene for Sports Illustrated, "I was standing in the dugout with one of my coaches… and [he] says to me 'Aren't you going to say hello to your new pitcher?' …And I say, 'That's a batboy.'" 20-year-old Maddux was the youngest Cub to play in 19 years on September 2, 1986 when he pitched against the Houston Astros. He won the first game he started, against the Cincinnati Reds 11-3. In the end of September, Greg pitched the first ever match up of rookie brothers in the major leagues when he faced his brother Mike. It the first time rookie brothers had faced each other as pitching counterparts. The Cubs won 8-3.
|ATL: Atlanta Braves; ChC: Chicago Cubs.|
A Standout Player
Despite his obvious talent, Greg Maddux had a shaky start in the major league and didn't become a standout player until May of 1988. He pitched a consecutive 26 and two-thirds scoreless innings. That season he enjoyed a nine game winning streak. In June, he was named Pitcher-of-the-Month for his 5-0 record and 2.22 ERA. He became the youngest player ever named to the All-Star Team at midseason and closed the year with an 188 record, 3.18 ERA and three shutouts.
1989 was another thrilling season for Maddux. His record of 19-12 was second in the National League for wins and his ERA was an exceptional 2.95. As a starter he pitched 35 games and led the Cubs to the National League East title. Continuing with the Cubs in 1990 and 1991 Maddux's statistics got progressively stronger. He was consistently a league leader in strikeouts, complete games, shutouts and wins.
The 1992 season was a watershed for Maddux, who had one of the best pitching seasons in the history of baseball. His record was 20-11 and for the first time in 15 years the Cubs had a 20-game winner. Maddux won the first of a record breaking four consecutive Cy Young Awards and his third consecutive Gold Glove Award as the best fielder in his position. At the end of the season, Maddux became a free agent and turned down a more lucrative offer from the Yankees to continue playing in the National League with the Atlanta Braves.
Wearing the Braves Jersey
The Braves were number one during the 1993 regular season. Atlanta sent three of their four pitchers to the All-Star Team and Maddux finished the season fourth in the National League with a 2.36 ERA, 267 innings pitched and eight complete games. He also won the Golden Glove Award and became one of the only players to take the honor in consecutive years playing for different teams. He told the New York Times, "You change teams and you want to make a good impression, I feel like I've done that. I didn't really change anything in the way that I pitched. I pretty much tried to do the same things that worked in the past."
During the 1994 and 1995 seasons Maddux remained dominant. He won Cy Young Awards both years and enjoyed the two lowest ERAs of his career, 1.56 and 1.63 respectively, substantially under the league average of 4.21. At the peak of his career Maddux declined a starting position on the 1995 All-Star Team and refused to do commercial endorsements. He told Newsweek, "Plugging products would just screw up a good day off."
The Best Pitcher in all of Baseball
In 1997, after leading the Braves for the third consecutive season to the National League Championship Series, Maddux signed a $57.5 million dollar contract to continue with the Braves for five years and has won the National League Golden Glove each year since then. In 2002, Maddux became the second pitcher, after Cy Young, in major league history to win at least 15 games a season for 15 consecutive seasons. Maddux currently ranks 2nd in the National League with an overall Earned Run Average of 2.62. Philadelphia Phillies manager Jim Fregosi is quoted in Baseball Digest, saying that, "He is the best pitcher in the National League. Maybe in all of baseball." Maddux takes his place among the legends of baseball with his usual nonchalance. He confessed to Newsweek, "I'll probably realize the meaning of all this after I'm gone, after I am history. But until then I'll just blow it off."
|1966||Born in San Angelo, Texas|
|1977||Moves to Las Vegas and plays in Ralph Medar's development camp|
|1983-84||Pitches on the Nevada All-State Team|
|1984||Drafted by the Chicago Cubs as a second round choice|
|1986||Promoted to Triple-A status, named to the Baseball America Triple-A All-Star Team|
|1990||Achieves his first 20 game season|
|1992||Becomes a free-agent and signs with the Atlanta Braves|
|1995||Becomes the first pitcher since Walter Johnson in 1918-19 to maintain an ERA below 1.80 for two consecutive seasons|
|1997||Signs a 5 year $57.5 million dollar contract to continue with the Braves|
|2002||Wins his 13th Golden Glove Award|
|2003||Asks for $16 million in arbitration with Atlanta Braves. Team offers 13.5 million|
Related Biography: Pitching Coach Michael Maddux
Mike Maddux, Greg's older brother, was named pitching coach for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002 after a 15-year major league career. Maddux spent three years playing college baseball at the University of Texas at El Paso, before cracking the major leagues. Both he and his brother began their major league careers in 1986. That same year, they made history as the first pair of rookie brothers to challenge each other on the pitcher's mound.
The year 1991 was Maddux's best season. He pitched relief for the San Diego Padres. Maddux co-led the pitching staff with 64 appearances and recorded seven victories, five saves and a 2.46 ERA. During his career Maddux played on nine different teams. In 2000 he signed with the Houston Astros. Before then he had donned the Phillies, Dodgers, Padres, Mets, Pirates, Red Sox, Mariners, and Expos uniforms.
During the off season, Maddux and his wife, Kathy, and their two children live in Las Vegas. Greg and Kathy founded the Maddux Foundation. In addition to being involved with many charitable organizations, every year the foundation donates Braves tickets to non-profit organizations.
"Maddux Wins 13th Gold Glove." New York Times (November 15, 2002): 7.
"Brewers Name Mike Maddux Pitching Coach, Wynegar Batting Coach." CBSSportsline.com. http://www.cbs.sportsline.com/ (December 10, 2002).
ESPN.com. http://www.espn.go.com/ (December 03, 2002).
Galenet.com. Biography Resource Center-Narrative Biography Display. http://galenet.galegroup.com/ (December 10, 2002).
"Mike Maddux Pitches In." Las Vegas Review Journal Online Edition. http://www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/2001/Nov-28-Wed-2001/ (December 10, 2002).
Round Rock Express Baseball. http://www.roundrockexpress.com/ (December 10, 2002).
Sketch by Paulo Nunes-Ueno
Awards and Accomplishments
|1986||Named to the Baseball America Triple-A All-Star Team|
|1988||Named June Pitcher-of-the-Month and becomes the youngest player ever named to the All-Star-Team at midseason|
|1990-2002||National League Golden Glove Award|
|1992-95||National League Cy Young Award|
|1994||ESPY: Play of the Year|
|1996||ESPY: Outstanding Baseball Performer|