This is Hall of Fame weekend, and the Chicago Cubs are being represented this weekend by one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and arguably the greatest pitcher of the modern Era. This weekend, former Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux is officially enshrined into the Hall of Fame!
While I fully understand that Maddux spent his prime years with the Atlanta Braves, and had most of his success with them, he knows that Chicago was very important to him, and his career. After all, while he spent 11 years with the Braves, he spent 10 with the Cubs. Maddux loved both Atlanta and Chicago so much, that he refused to wear either cap going into the hall of legends. I am not sure any other player could have asked for such a request and been approved. Generally, the Hall of Fame is the one telling the players which cap they are going to wear, like Andre Dawson who went in as a member of the Montreal Expos; but Maddux told the Hall of Fame.
In his time with Atlanta, Maddux was nothing short of amazing, winning the Cy Young three times in his first three years with the Braves. That would give him four consecutive Cy Young awards after winning one in his final year with the Cubs. That puts him in a tie for third place for most Cy Young awards in a career with Steve Carlton, one behind Randy Johnson and three behind Roger Clemens. He also won 194 games in a Braves uniform as well as 133 in a Cubs uniform.
What should be noted though, is except for winning a World Series, all of his milestone accomplishments where made while in a Cubs uniform. His first win as a Major League pitcher, his first Cy Young, his 300th win and his 3000 strike out. He also won his first Gold Glove award on his way to having 13 consecutive. In the end, Maddux would have a major league record 18 Gold Glove Awards. No other pitcher, no other player for that matter in baseball history has as many Gold Glove awards as Maddux.
In the modern era, no other pitcher has more wins than the 355 that Maddux has, but he is eighth on the all time list which includes the all time wins leader Cy Young and several other pitchers from the early century. While collecting his 355 wins, Maddux also set a record being the only Major League pitcher with 17 straight seasons of having at least 15 wins. He is also one of only four pitchers who have collected 3000 (3371)strike outs while walking less than 1000 (999).
What was most amazing about Maddux, was he baffled hitters without having much velocity at all. He was not a power pitcher, he was an artist. No one could paint the corner of a strike zone or hit a target like Maddux. As a matter of fact, Maddux was so efficient that they even created a statistic specifically for him, based on his performance. “The Maddux” is a statistic that highlights how efficient a performance is. In order to qualify for “The Maddux” a pitcher must throw a complete game shutout while throwing less than 100 pitches in a nine inning game. Maddux accomplished this feat a record 13 times. The next closest is Zane Smith, who accomplished this feat seven times. Fellow Hall of Fame class member Tom Glavine only did this five times.
Because of all these accomplishments, the Cubs retired the number 31 for Maddux, as well as fellow Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins; whether they should have retired the number for Maddux or not is another discussion.
Many fans will look at allowing Maddux to walk away after the 1992 season as the biggest mistake the Cubs ever made. Seeing him leave might have been an even bigger mistake than when the Cubs traded away Lou Brock. Whether or not Maddux would have gone on to be as successful as he was had he stayed with the Cubs, or if the Cubs could have had the success the Braves had is unknown. I like to imagine, because of how amazing of a pitcher he was in his career, with as good of control as he had, that he would have easily been as dominant as he was.
Whether you consider him a Brave or a Cub, you can only tip your hat to Maddux. The greatest pitcher in my life time, arguably the greatest pitcher of the modern era and one of the greatest pitchers in all of baseball history. To you, professor, I tip my cap.