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Chicago Cubs: The Heroes of Wrigley Series: Greg Maddux

(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Greg Maddux was the winningest pitcher of his generation and elevated ‘control’ to a new definition, both with the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves.

Greg Maddux spent most of his childhood in Spain, where his father, Dave, was stationed with the Air Force.  As a child, all Maddux wanted to do was play baseball.  When he came home from school, he and his brother, Mike Maddux, came home from school, headed straight outside in the hot Spanish sun and play baseball, soon coming to the realization that this is what they wanted to do.

While in high school, Maddux played junior-varsity basketball but he and his brother were persuaded by coaches to focus solely on baseball. By his junior year, his high school won the state championship.

Helping mold Greg Maddux into a great high school pitcher was Ralph Medar, a former scout who worked with Maddux and taught him that movement was more important than velocity.  Maddux didn’t turn heads with out-of-this-world stuff, a blazing fastball or a 12-to-6 curveball.  Without this luxury, Maddux had to learn to pitch.  He didn’t disappoint.

He was known for his control, late movement in pitches and, simply knowing what he was doing.  A cerebral pitcher, Maddux studied hitters and got them out with pitches that hardly seemed imposing on their way to the plate.

After attending the University of Arizona in Tucson, Maddux was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the second round of the 1984 draft.  He progressed through the minor leagues with a steady rhythm, defining his work on the mound and demonstrating a pitching intelligence beyond his years after winning a combined 27 minor league games during the 1985-86 years.  He saw a three-level promotion through Class A to Triple.  By September of 1986, he earned a call-up to the Majors.

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