COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — A model of calm and poise on the mound, Greg Maddux was as nervous as Tom Glavine had ever seen him on Sunday afternoon.
The former Cubs and Atlanta Braves pitcher admitted he was a little on edge for his induction in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Maddux, Glavine, White Sox slugger Frank Thomas, former White Sox manager Tony La Russa and managers Joe Torre and Bobby Cox were all part of the Hall’s 75 th class, which was inducted Sunday.
While Maddux might have been nervous about speaking on the inside, he showed the same steady demeanor outside that helped him win 355 games over a 23-year career. During a 10-minute speech, Maddux thanked numerous teammates, coaches, friends and family while gracefully professing his love for both Chicago and Atlanta, the two cities in which he played the majority of his career.
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“That was the first speech I’ve really ever given,” Maddux said. “I was not really sure what to expect. But I actually really enjoyed writing it because it made me think of where I started and how I got to this point and all the people who helped me along the way.”
Beginning with his father, Maddux, the first 2014 Class member to speak Sunday, thanked his family. He joked about how his brother Mike, now a pitching coach with the Texas Rangers, showed him the ropes, including a science experiment involving a lighter and methane.
He recognized coaches, scouts, his wife Kathy, all of his catchers and super agent Scott Boras for helping him get to Atlanta. Maddux also recognized his return to the Cubs and the hopes he had for the 2004 team, which just missed the postseason — “I wouldn’t be a Cub if I couldn’t handle a little heartache and we missed the post-season by one game my first year back.”
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Maddux said he was so nervous that he didn’t have a chance to gauge the reaction of the crowd — decidedly pro-Atlanta with Glavine and Cox also being inducted — in his mentioning of the two cities. The four-time Cy Young winner announced Saturday he’s comfortable with his choice not to wear either team’s logo on his Hall of Fame plaque and reiterated his feelings for both cities afterward.
“Both places were very special to me,” Maddux said. “I learned how to pitch in Chicago and I learned how to win, raise a family in Atlanta.
“It’s like, ‘I’ve got two kids, I can’t tell you which one I liked the most.’ I love both places equally.”
Long a master of the pre-start process, Maddux showed as much enthusiasm for the lead up to his speech, including the writing process. He said he only hopes he got across how important everyone was to him, even if he was nervous.
“You have so much respect for the people that show you the right path to take and every person I mentioned in speech, I’m a part of,” Maddux said. “I’ve gotten a little bit out of this guy, that guy, that guy. You put it all together and you end up here. Hopefully, I know it might not have come across that way, but as I was writing it, that’s how I felt.”
– Dan Hayes, CSN Chicago
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