Mike and Greg Maddux are Still Making Baseball More Fun to Watch
Two Air Force brats did what military brats have been doing since time immemorial: fitting in with a new crowd in a new town by playing sports. For the Dave Maddux boys, the sport was baseball. Mike was five years older than Greg and made it to the majors first. He played for twelve years for nine teams, making his mark as a middle relief pitcher. Greg played for nineteen years, briefly for three teams, and for more than a decade with one. He will go down in baseball history as one of the greatest starting pitchers of all time.
The brothers came together again, wearing the same uniform for the first time since 1987 when they played winter baseball in Venezuela. They were both on the pitching staff of the Texas Rangers. True to form, Mike arrived first in 2009, with little brother Greg following after in 2012.
Mike coached major league pitchers since 2003. He was on the Milwaukee Brewers staff from 2003 to 2008. Greg came on board as special assistant to Rangers general manager Jon Daniels in January 2012. This move came after Greg served as special assistant to Chicago Cubs coach Jim Hendry for two seasons after retiring with the Cubs. When Jim was fired in early 2013, Mike was in the running for the head coach job. That didn’t happen, but the idea of the two Maddux brothers joining forces stuck.
As a pitcher who never broke 92 mph, Greg was in a position to advise the majority of pitchers who passed through the Rangers organization, not just the few fastball stars. He was never a power pitcher, relying instead on superior control in working the entire strike zone and his infamous knowledge of his batters’ inclinations. It has been said Greg would feed a batter a home run pitch in Spring Training, and then never deliver that same pitch to him throughout the entire following season, knowing that batter would be watching for it every time he came up to the plate. No wonder one of his nicknames was "The Professor".
“He never throws anything the same speed,” says Rangers’ Josh Hamilton. “One pitch moves this way, one moves the other. The radar gun says it’s going slow, but it doesn’t feel that way in the batter’s box. It drives you crazy.”
It also is how a guy wins at least thirteen games a year for almost twenty years in the majors. It is how he became the first pitcher to win four consecutive Cy Young Awards. It is how he recorded 3,000 strikeouts before retiring in 2008 with 355 career wins, second only to Tom Seaver since 1920. He is number six all-time, an eight-time All Star and won eighteen Golden Gloves.
The Texas Rangers gave Greg the freedom not to travel with the team during the regular season. Watching games from his Los Vegas home, where he still has two teenagers under his roof, he called or texted his brother with any pertinent information he gleaned from watching both the pitchers and batters on television. Mike moved on (some of us would say he was promoted) to the National League (his brother's stomping grounds) and worked under another former Brave, Coach Dusty Baker, with the Washington Nationals before moving back to the American League and the Boston Red Sox.
As a fan of the Atlanta Braves, I can only hope when Greg's children have flown the nest, Greg might consider returning to the team he won a World Series with to make his continued contribution to baseball.
Mike is welcome also.