Thursday, January 09, 2014

Mad Dog and the Big Hurt

I have never really followed Major League Baseball too closely and it has been exactly 5 years since I even paid attention to the scores or highlights.  After I moved to Chicago two baseball players with connections to Chicago held my interest.  Greg Maddux, a pitcher, and Frank Thomas, a first baseman for the White Sox.

Maddux had been a Cy Young award winning pitcher for the Cubs who had been unsigned by the Cubs, paving the way for the Atlanta Braves to grab him.  Maddux would win the Cy Young for the next three years as well underscoring how badly the Cubs had misjudged his greatness.  Frank Thomas was a huge (6' 5", 240 pounds) hitter who was as good a singles hitter as he was a slugger.

Even as their careers wound down and they changed teams, I kept track of the box scores just to see how they were doing.  Maddux finally ended with 355 wins, one more than Roger Clemens which pleased me no end (and still does even today)!

Yesterday, in their first year of eligibility Maddux and Thomas were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  A perfect ending to my "association" with them.

Someday I will tell you of the one time I went to see Thomas play live.  I was more fortunate with Maddux, seeing him pitch multiple times, including a 9 inning gem where he did not give up a single run and still did not win the game!  That game - on August 28th, 2002 - remains my favorite baseball game.  I had a seat right behind home place at PNC Park in Pittsburgh and got to watch Maddux unveil a 100 pitch masterpiece.  When he left in the 9th inning the score was 0-0!

Maddux was not only a good pitcher, he was also a great fielder, winning the Golden Glove a record 18 times.  Think about it, for 18 different years he was best fielding pitcher in baseball.  A testament to his longevity and excellence at that position.

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