Maddux to Retire

It’s official. Or at least it will be on Monday.

Maddux is my favorite baseball player of all time. Despite this, I have only seen him pitch in person one time. This is a near-contemporaneous account of that one time I saw him, related in an email to my buddy Ethan in the still-drunk hours following the game:

From: Craig
To: Ethan
Date: Friday, August 4, 2006 at 12:31 AM
Re: Maddux

So we took all of our summer clerks down to Cincinnati tonight for the Reds-Dodgers game. We’re on the way back in the big custom bus now. Fabulous night. Maddux gets traded to L.A. last weekend. Tonight is his first start for them. The stars align, and I get to see my favorite player tonight. I buy a Dodgers hat and wear it down just to support Maddux, and, I’ll admit, to be a bit annoying to Reds fans.

Maddux has a huge fork in his back. He is done. Kinda hard to watch him the last year or two, but I still root. I expect little or nothing from him.

Game starts. He gives up an early walk and I think it will be a long night. Then he starts throwing bullets. One. Two. Three. Five innings of no-hit ball. It’s 1994 all over again. Sixth inning starts. Long fly . . . caught. Another . . . caught. Lightening in a bottle. Third batter comes up and he mows him down too. I’m alone in a ballpark screaming at the top of my lungs. No-hitter in effect. I know it won’t last. Even in his prime Maddux never threw a no hitter because he’s around the plate too much. He can’t not throw strikes, even when he doesn’t have his best stuff. He gets hit. That’s what he does. Still, I think how nice it would be to not see him give up a hit.

As the top of the seventh begins, the skies open up and a deluge falls on Great American Ballpark. Lightning. Thunder. The Dodgers bat, and the half inning ends just as the umps call for a delay and the tarp comes out. Forty minutes. I know that there is no chance that Maddux is coming out for the bottom of the 7th. He’s 40. His arm will be tight. He’s a Hall of Famer already. He doesn’t need the no-no to make him happy. They got him for the stretch run and they need to save his arm. Still, part of me hopes.

The game resumes with some kid I’ve never heard of on the mound [note: it was Joe Beimel. I’ve since heard of him]. He gives up a hit to the first batter. Never send a boy to do a man’s job.

Dodgers win 3-0. Maddux gets the win. I get to see him pitch like he was in his prime again, and got to see him leave before anyone remembered he didn’t have it anymore.

I was almost too old for heroes when Maddux came up. I’m definitely too old for heroes now. He will be the last.

Thanks, Greg.


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TC
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TC
I saw Maddux pitch, live, probably about as much as I’ve seen any non-Phillie pitch.  Him and Glavine were the twin destroyers of my summers.  That said, I’ve always liked watching him pitch on TV better than live.  Maybe it’s just because it’s genuinely hard to appreciate a nuanced pitching performance when you’re 12 years old and sitting in the upper deck, a quarter mile above the field.  But, there was always something comical about Maddux—every game seemed like 7 innings, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, and about one-hundred thousand infield popups and grounders to corner infielders.  Like he was doing… Read more »
Seth
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Seth

I got to see him pitch *against* the Dodgers in San Diego a couple of years ago.  My wife took some photos of him, and the coolest thing was, you could overlay image after image of him coming out of his windup, and there wasn’t the slightest difference between them.

I’m glad to say I saw him in person.

Daniel
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Daniel
I grew up watching baseball on TBS on WGN, so a lot of my baseball watching involved Maddux, even though I was an Angels fan living in SoCal.  He was always memorable in that he was so ordinary.  Of course he used to throw harder than he does now, but he was never a power pitcher.  It seems like there are a lot of righties nowadays throwing heavy sinkers with a ton of movement on their pitches, but I will always remember watching Maddux’s two-seamer trail back over the inside/outside corner and wonder how the heck he made a baseball… Read more »
Jeff Girgenti
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Jeff Girgenti

In a mostly self-indulgent email to my friends earlier this year, I re-capped my Top 20 Yankee Stadium memories. One entry was summed up very tidy:

7/2/97 http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1997/B07020NYA1997.htm
Greg Maddux. Complete game shutout. 2:09. It was impressive.

For the record, not all of my Top 20 were gems. In fact the next Yankee Stadium game I highlighted was this clunker:

9/5/97 http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1997/B09050NYA1997.htm
Hideki Irabu. 5-1/3, 9 runs. 4:22 (the longest 9 inning game in history (at least at the time)). It was not impressive.

Aaron
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Aaron

On Monday there will be a line around the block to get him as a pitching coach or instructor.

Craig Calcaterra
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Craig Calcaterra

I read that he’s announcing at the meetings at the Bellagio (Maddux lives in Vegas) so it may be a literal line of actual baseball GMs.

Zach Sanders
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Zach Sanders

Right there with you Craig. Maddux is by far my favorite player of all time, but I never had the chance to see him in person.

I can still see the look in the hitters eye when that running fastball flies over the outside corner. Priceless.

Maddux will undoubtedly be the best pitching coach of all time if he wants to be. I just want to see him in the dugout a few times a year to remind me of his presence around baseball. It’d be a good reminder that everything is right with the world.

-Zach Sanders
http://www.mlbnotebook.com

Maddux Article:
http://www.mlbnotebook.com/2008/12/next-great-pitching-coach.html

Levi Stahl
Guest
Levi Stahl

So long, Mr. Maddux. We’re already missing you. Please go be a pitching coach somewhere.

blaze
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blaze

D’oh! The Yeungling! Craig, I think my Dodgers-Pirates game was ‘06, in which case I’m sorry I missed the poetry on the mound.

lar
Guest
lar
I only saw Maddux pitch twice, and not until after I moved out here to Milwaukee in 2005. I saw him pitch for the Dodgers exactly one month after you, Craig, on Sept 4, 2006, and then again in 2007, pitching for the Padres on Sept 28. They were not pretty games. He gave up 6 runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 in that first game, and 3 runs and 6 hits in 5 innings for the Padres. That Padres game was big, though. They were fighting the Rockies’ hot streak in the last weekend of the season that… Read more »
Vinny Fazio
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Vinny Fazio
I really became a Maddux fan when he was aquired by Atlanta. I was 13 at the time. I spent much of Jr. High and High School days living and dying with every pitch he threw. I would be physically nervous every time he started. I enjoyed watching him pitch when he was the most dominant pitcher alive. I enjoyed him just at much in recent years. I think what he did after his 37th birthday is as impressive as what he did before. From about age 37 on he was unable to throw harder than 83 or 84 mph.… Read more »
Preston
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Preston

It’s a selfish desire, but I hope the sports networks executives are in that line as well – he would probably make a fascinating analyst.

Ernie
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Ernie

@vinny fazio ( I am ripping off jason here)

(nodding head approvingly)  I have the same feelings man.  But growing up a red sox fan, I’m going to have to say that Pedro had the more dominating peak than maddux.  FJM said it best.  All he did was dominate the DH Steroid laden AL East for 7 years.

Scott Bermingham
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Scott Bermingham
I’m a Braves fan from the land down under.  Back in the early 90’s the only baseball we got here was one game a week, shown around 2AM, the occasional highlights on a weekly sports show and delayed broadcasts of the LCS and world series.  I chose the Braves over the Twins for no good reason and then spent the next dozen or so years going without sleep to see Glavine, Smoltz (and then Maddux) almost do it every year.  The year cable came to my city, Maddux went to Chicago and the Braves went in search of mediocrity. Watching… Read more »
APBA Guy
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APBA Guy

From 1988 with Chicago and a 3.18 ERA to 2002 in Atlanta with a 2.62, including a 5 year stretch from 94 to 98 when he averaged an ERA under 2.10, there was no finer pitcher. Only Pedro and Randy Johnson approached him for dominance in their peak years, and neither could match this length of superb performances.

This year Ricky Henderson will go into the HoF as the greatest leadoff man of all time.

In 5 years, it will be Maddux. 355 victories in a game of increasingly specialization is a record that will stand a very long time.

matt
Guest
matt
Like the first poster, I’ve seen Maddux beat the Phillies live more times than I care to count.  That being said, he’s probably my favorite non-Phillies pitcher of all time. He had tremendous talent, but it always looked like he was getting by on guts and guile.  How many times have we looked in the dugout at Maddux wearing his glasses and thought, “That could be me?”  I know I’ll never be a beast like Clemens or have the athletic body of Pedro Martinez, but Maddux looked like another schlub on the street who was probably a bit nerdy.  That’s… Read more »
EricJohn
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EricJohn

Here is why Greg Maddux was the best….

Longtime BRaves fan here, grew up in Atlanta and saw Maddux pitch dozens of times. 

When me and my buddies would go to games that Maddux pitched, you had to drink so fast to get a buzz because there was always the chance that the game would be over before you could get down three beers.  No joke.

Greg Maddux…makes you drink faster.

DTro
Guest
DTro

Maddux is probably my favorite non-Met of all time, and my dad’s favorite current player. I saw him pitch once, in 2005, when he was on the Cubs. Jae Seo outdueled him in a 1-0 game at Shea. I was pumped that the Mets won, my dad was bummed that Maddux lost when he really pitched a great game. Knowing how 05 and Jae Seo turned out, I’m kinda bummed now too.

Albern
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Albern

gives thanks for the number, i used an good one for awhile. Make you have an updated list though as fantastic of these no longer work?
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david

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alex
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alex

Greg Maddux to retire with 355 victories. Greg Maddux has thrown his last pitch in the majors.
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