We have provided a pictorial essay for all of you to run through Greg Maddux's extraordinary career. We also want you to know that Greg, today, will be here for approximately an hour or so. He won't be doing any one-on-ones. He'll be available to you here for any questions that you may have.
I think to summarize Greg Maddux's sensational career, it's a standard that, well, I think most likely will never be set again. Besides having the most wins of any living pitcher today, you would really have to go back and look at -- for a pitcher to equal what Greg has done, they would have to pitch 22 full seasons. They would have to average 16 wins, 33 starts, 226 innings during each of those seasons. That's a remarkable accomplishment.
He was a complete player. He won 18 gold gloves, a record. Holds currently approximately 18 Major League and National League records. Remarkably, he won 15 or more games for 17 consecutive seasons, passing the immortal Cy Young. He won four Cy Young awards, was an eight-time All-Star, and certainly what's most important to Greg, he was a world champion.
Apart from all these accomplishments, one of the most distinctive things of Greg Maddux's career has to do more with statistical performance and achievements. He's an outstanding husband, father, son, teammate; a man who has devoted millions of dollars to community and community service with his own time.
But I think the one thing that we are going to say about his career for my son and our sons and any other young men who wants to come into Major League Baseball, is that when you go back and you talk about the model career, the career, how it should be done in every phase, off the field and on the field, I think this is one of the proudest moments of Major League Baseball that we have the privilege of having a Maddux career.
And with that, Greg, I would like to turn it over to you. Thank you for attending.
Greg Maddux: I'm just here to say, really, thank you to everybody. Everybody in baseball, from teams I've played for, GMs, hitting coaches, pitching coaches, teammates, clubbies, people that work in the ballparks that you see every day in baseball. Everybody has always treated me great, and the friends I made, I really just came out here today to say thank you.
I appreciate everything this game has given me. It's going to be hard to walk away obviously, but, you know, it's time. I have a family now that I need to spend some more time with. I still think I can play the game, but not as well as I would like to, so it's time to say good-bye. I'm just here to say thank you and thanks to everybody. More than happy to answer any questions that anybody has on just about everything.
You spent two stints in Chicago with the Cubs. Can you sum up your feelings about those two stints and about what playing in Chicago meant to you?
Greg Maddux: Well, it was the only thing I knew when I first came up. I spent the first nine years of my baseball life in Chicago wearing a Cub uniform. Chicago is a special city and it's a special place. And for me, that's where it all started. That's where I had the opportunity to meet Dick Pole, the first pitching coach that I had that I thought took me to a new level. I had an opportunity to work with him and improve on what I needed to do to become a better pitcher. For that, I thank Dick. He was a big part of me when I first started out in Chicago.
And the second time, I was received there like probably a lot better than I should have been, but I enjoyed going there. I know we came up a little short my first two or three years back there. We came close but we didn't win, and it was always fun trying.
Mike Mussina had said recently that he knew he was retiring all along but just did not want to tell anyone and have a big deal made of it. Did you know all season, or did you wait until after the season to decide?
Greg Maddux: No, I knew. I think I decided actually two years ago, but I ended up playing one more year anyway.
I think the wife and I had talked about going to Chicago and trying to finish out there. You know, we really liked the West Coast, and thought if we played out there for the last year or two we could be close to Vegas and close to the kids' schools and it would be easy for them to come out on weekends and summers and stuff like that.
But I pretty much knew last spring training. I had kind of told some teammates and some people in baseball that this was going to be my last year. I don't think they really believed me, but I think I was telling the truth that time.
Again, I didn't want the big show or whatever, you know, dog and pony show going on the last couple of months of my career.
Can you talk about the period in Atlanta and what pitching with Smoltz and Glavine meant to you, and also, the impact of Bobby Cox and Leo Mazzone on your career?
Greg Maddux: Yeah, that was very special. You know, we went to Atlanta for the 11 years I was there, and they had won before I got there. We won every year I was there. Just to be around that atmosphere.
I remember Bobby talking about it in spring training. We were getting ready for post-season. We were not getting ready for the season; we were getting ready for post-season.
You know, we did a little bit less in spring training because we knew that our season was going to be seven months, not six. And, you know, we had the winning attitude back in February, you know, the first week that pitchers showed up.
Bobby, thank you, for everything that you taught me about the game. And Leo, as well, and all of the coaches over there. Jimy Williams was my hitting coach, one of my first hitting coaches I had. I just had a lot of coaches along the way that taught me so much about the game that hopefully I used in the future and hopefully I'll pass down as time goes on.
Have you ever thought about how things would have been different for your career and the Cubs had you stayed after the '92 season?
Greg Maddux: A little bit. Not a whole lot.
You know, when I left Chicago in '92 I was not ready to leave Chicago. But, you know, sometimes, you know, the grass is greener on the other side. You know, I got a chance to go to Atlanta and win, and win a lot. We got one World Series ring, but we won every year.
You know, to share that, like with Smoltzy, Glav, Kevin Millwood, all of the guys that I had a chance to pitch with. It was pretty cool just to go there and actually learn how to have fun, and play golf between starts.
Smoltzy always had something set up, and that was pretty cool. Just the opportunity to meet people from all over the country on the golf course, and at the same time, win every year; and have such enjoyment to go to the park every day. I think winning creates that, and it was nice to be a part of it.
Would you have any interest in coaching, managing, any of that stuff down the road?
Greg Maddux: You know, I might. I think -- right now I think I want to take a year off and spend time with the family, do things that I have not been able to do because of baseball, and see if I like it or not. You know, I assume I'll like it, but I also don't know about being out of the game. I don't really know a whole lot about anything, but I feel like I know a few things about baseball. I'm going to miss it, and hopefully I won't miss it too much.
You know, I haven't really got to that point yet. Right now, it's kind of a normal off-season for me. I'm doing things that I've done for the last 20 off-seasons. Nothing is really different for me or my family right now.
Do you think anyone will ever get to 355 wins again? A lot of people say that the mental aspect of the game is why you were so terrific, but I'm assuming the physical part is pretty good, too. How much do you think of your success was mental, and how much do you think it was your physical ability?
Greg Maddux: Well, obviously it was a combination of both. I think somebody is probably going to win that many games again. You know, there might be some kid in seventh or eighth grade right now who will do it. Who knows? Or a young pitcher starting out right now that will do it.
I think players today play longer. I think they are able to pitch when they are a little bit older now, just because they take care of themselves better. Physically, you have to be able to do certain things with the baseball, and sometimes you can't let your brain get in the way of allowing to you do that.
So I think probably you need the skills to be able to do it, and then just be smart enough not to be.
Earlier in your career, at Shea, when the Braves got the best of the Mets, can you discuss that rivalry and what it meant at the time?
Greg Maddux: Well, it was fun. It was always fun going to New York. We had Chipper on our team, and Chipper always used to do big things there.
It's fun watching the guys play there. It's also fun being a part of it. Shea Stadium is one of the best places to play baseball on the road, and especially when the Mets were good. There was just a buzz in the air there that you'll never forget. There was a smell, actually, that I'll never forget. There were just certain things about Shea Stadium that, this is a pretty cool place to be and you're just lucky to be a part of it.
I was sitting down in the bullpen with Jimmy Jet, (ph)the security guard down there, telling war stories until the game starts. You have memories of every ballpark, and it seemed like you spent a lot of time down in the bullpen at Shea Stadium.
In the mid 90s you had a couple years where your ERA was three runs lower than the league average, and you had a string of starts where you give up two or three runs for almost three or four months at a time. Do you feel that that was the very best part of your career as far as individual performance, and why were you able to be so dominant during those years?
Greg Maddux: Well, I guess you just get locked in. You have everything and you're comfortable with what you're trying to do with the baseball. Hitters have not really caught on yet back then, and I think that had a lot to do with it.
I think there were not too many pitchers that tried to -- that threw the way I threw. Hitters didn't see it a lot, and I think that was a big advantage at the time.
You know, you just kind of have a couple good games and you just kind of start rolling from there.
Who were some young players and young pitchers that you see that could really have that kind of career going forward?
Greg Maddux: You know, you always look at all of the young players that you played with and had pretty good careers, like Kevin Millwood is one. He was a young player when he came with Atlanta. You look at Kershaw recently with L.A. That's a guy that might be able to pitch for another 20 years. I don't think he's 21 yet, or barely.
There's always young teammates that you played with that you think have an opportunity to do pretty special things. Jake Peavy in San Diego. He's got a chance to put together six or seven years right now and be good for a long time. It seems like there's always one or two on every team that have a chance to do something special. You just hope they want to. You hope they want to sleep, eat, and drink baseball and do those kinds of things.
Many young pitchers have come to look at you as kind of an oracle guy that could give them information, how to set up hitters, how to grip the ball and get more movement. Are there a couple of core suggestions that you made to a lot of pitchers over the years that may have been missed by other guys along the way?
Greg Maddux: Well, I just think the best way to learn is screw up and not do it again. I think it's okay to make mistakes. Hopefully you learn by it and you don't make those mistakes again. I think that's probably the easiest way to learn. That's what I always try to do.
You know, I've always tried to -- it was okay to make a mistake, but I tried not to make the same mistake twice.
In pitching with another 300-game winner, what did you learn from him, and what did he learn from you?
Greg Maddux: You know, I think probably the biggest thing I learned, pitching alongside Glavine, was to realize you don't have to be 100% to win. You have to take the ball and you have to go out there.
That's what he taught me, because before I got to Atlanta I had always felt pretty good physically. I always felt pretty good, and it was no big deal starting on the fifth day. But injuries come up, and sometimes it's real easy to say, Oh, I need another day or two.
But I think in Atlanta we pitched. I think Tommy led the way on that. I think he showed everybody that you can go out there, and if you can throw the ball over the plate, you have a chance to win no matter how bad you feel or how good you feel. That's probably one of the biggest things I learned about Glavine is about how to compete when you're not feeling your best.
I was curious, over the last 20 years or so, there's been an awful lot of talk about how you were able to move the ball, and with such small hands. That was something a lot of pitching coaches would talk about. Can you shed any light as to how you were able to perfect this craft? You've been ducking that question for 15 years, I know.
Greg Maddux: Yeah, I think I was just very fortunate. When I was just learning how to pitch when I was 15, 16 years old, I had a pitching coach, Ralph Medar, that taught me that movement was more important that velocity. I believed him. I don't know why I believed him, but I believed him.
You know, you are only as smart as the advice you receive. You know how that goes. I was very fortunate at a young age to have Ralph teach me about movement.
And when I started learning how to pitch I wasn't learning how to throw harder. I was learning how to get more movement on the baseball.
I threw hard enough, but we learned movement was more important than velocity and changing speeds was more important than velocity and location was more important than velocity, and we learned in that order. We just kind of went from there. You just kind of make up your stuff as you go along and try to add a little something here or there and hope it works.
As far as the adjustments that you had to make in an era where there was steroids and an era where the umpires took away the black from you and the guys that pitched east and west, will you talk about how you went about that and were able to continue to be the quality of pitcher that you were?
Greg Maddux: Well, I never changed. I think, Hey, you locate your fastball and you change speeds no matter who is hitting strikes or what is going on around you. I think if anything, you just gave yourself a little more room for error.
I think now instead of trying to win 2-1, you try to win 4-3. You always figured, if I gave up two less runs in six innings I had a pretty good chance to win. I think when the run increase started happening, you just try to give up three or less in six or seven innings and try to go from there.
Even last year, you led the National League in fewest pitches per inning, and you did that during your career. You've seen examples of guys that need 115 pitches to get through five or six innings. What's the key to doing that?
Greg Maddux: The key to doing that is just having stuff that's a little short that day, and fair. It's very simple. (Laughter).
When you see pitchers with electric fastballs and big breaking balls and stuff like that, they are going to throw more pitches. It's that simple. I think the guys that kind of throw a little bit under the radar and rely more on movement and location, their pitch counts are going to be a lot lower.
Because when hitters swing, they hit it fair. They don't swing and miss off of the stuff I was throwing the last couple of years.
I think also being in the strike zone helps, too. I think when you don't try to strike people out, your pitch count comes down and your strikeouts stay the same. You get your strikeouts 0-2 and 1-2 instead of 0-2 and 3-2. I think that's the only difference.
You're a Las Vegan. You've comeback here, and the off-season is long.
Greg Maddux: Yeah, Vegas is home, and it's always been home. I grew up here. My dad and mom brought us here, brought me here when I was young, and we've always lived here. We've had a home here. I met my wife here. My brother and sister grew up here. My brother doesn't live here anymore, but he'll probably be back here shortly. Vegas has always been home.
The way baseball is, you can get traded or change teams pretty much any time, and it's always nice to have a home. I think it was important for me to never let the city I play in be home. It was always like my second home. It was never, like, the home.
It just made things a little bit easier for me where you don't feel like you have to be in the same place the whole time. You knew the base was going to be there for you, and you knew that's where you were going to have holidays and Thanksgivings and Christmases. And maybe now we'll even have the Fourth of July.
At the end of his career after he retired, Joe DiMaggio used to revel in the idea that people called him the greatest living ballplayer. If someone wants to now refer to you as the greatest living pitcher, how will you handle that?
Greg Maddux: You know, it will be a nice compliment.
I'm very proud of what I did on the baseball field. But, you know, I never really considered myself things like that. I'd like to think I'm the same person I was 20 years ago; hopefully just a few things have changed.
But as far as how I think of myself, I don't really think of myself that way.
What will you miss the most, just the game itself, or hanging with the guys in the clubhouse before games and after games?
Greg Maddux: Yeah, I think I'll miss all of it. I think I'll miss obviously the game. I think I'll miss pitching. I'll miss hitting, running the bases, and I'll miss sitting on the berth trying to guess what pitch is coming next and where it will be hit and those types of things. I'll miss the four days off in between and hanging out with the guys.
I really enjoyed playing golf on the road over the years with the guys. To me, that was a lot of fun. That made it even more enjoyable when you went to the ballpark. I think you were -- mentally, you always had that break instead of sitting in the hotel room all day waiting for the game to start. I'll miss the plane flights, and poker games on the flights were always fun. Just hanging out with the guys.
Spring trainings were always fun. Spring training for me was a blast. Spring training is where you go -- I know in Orlando we spent a lot of time going to the amusement parks with the family and taking the kids and all that. There are so many things that go on in baseball that have nothing to do with the first through the ninth inning that I'll miss. I'm sure as time goes by I'll miss them even more.
If you were made the king of baseball for a week, is there anything that you would do to change the game to improve it?
Greg Maddux: You know, there's really not a whole lot you can do to improve it. The game, it's almost perfect the way it is. I think, you know, this game has been going on now the way it was played 100 years ago. I think that's the beauty of it.
I think the only difference is now it just might be a little faster. That's about it. But I think the game itself, there's really nothing wrong with it. Players are probably better now than they were before, but they will probably be better in 20 years than they are today. That's just the way it is.
You know, I've always liked it, and I didn't really -- it's hard to change something that's already pretty close to perfect.
On the lighter side, when is your next tee time? Can you talk about golf? And just your thoughts on top of that about the Hall of Fame in the future.
Greg Maddux: I'll have one pretty soon.
Well, I don't really have any thoughts of it right now at this moment. I think there's a lot of good players in there. Don't really have any thoughts on it.
I know my son has got a tournament there next summer, and I'm looking forward to going there, go there and watch him play. I'll hopefully get a chance to look around and see it.
I had a little bit of a chance this past year when we were there, but didn't really have the time I'd like to spend there and really check everything out. I'm looking forward to seeing it and looking forward to watching my kid play there next summer.
And I would like to thank my wife, too. I think when everyone asks, you know, how do you have so much success on the field, you know, for me, everything was very easy. Everything was made very simple for me at home. When I got home late after a road trip, I was obviously in bed. The days after I was pitching, I was left alone and I had my lunch made right at 2:00.
I had everything taken care of for me away from the park, so the only time that I had to worry about anything was when I was out of the park. And, you know, for that, I thank you, and hopefully you'll do it for another -- (Laughter) -- keep doing that for a while. (Laughter).
I really do, I think it's important to have -- it was important for me to have everything cleaned up off the field, and I didn't have to worry about anything except pitching. My wife took care of all that for me. I think that's one of the reasons why it's so easy to go to the park and turn yourself off and just do baseball stuff. So, thank you.
Spring training, you're back at home. Have you thought about what emotions you're going to feel again with spring training right around the corner?
Greg Maddux: You know, I really haven't. I know when I'm afraid to think of things I don't really think about them, so I haven't really thought about it a whole lot.
I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Hopefully it won't be too tough. Hopefully I'll be able to do the things that I'm doing this week and next week and not worry a whole lot about it.
I'll just have some friends left in the game, and I'll see how they are doing and I'll just follow the guys that I've always followed until I find some new ones. Thank you. Again, I just want to say thank you for everything. The game has given me and my family so much that I just want to say thank you. And the one thing I hope, is I hope I gave back. I played the game the way I want my teammates to play it. Again, thank you for everything. I'll miss it. Thank you.
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