COMMENTARY | When you picture Greg Maddux, it undoubtedly has to be the image of the Atlanta Braves' ace painting the corners of the plate with his iconic cut fastball as he helps the Braves win the 1995 World Series and earn 10 of their 14 consecutive division titles.
For the longest time, the Braves were defined by their star pitchers, and Maddux was chief among them.
What most casual fans don't remember is that Mad Dog also played part of his career as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
Even though the Chicago portion of his career acts as the second-rate prologue and epilogue of Maddux's story, No. 31 has decided to give both cities equal billing on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Unlike other sports, baseball players enter the Hall of Fame as a member of one specific club. That team's logo is etched into bronze on the commemorative plaque that adorns the walls of Cooperstown. However, Maddux has elected to forgo choosing a team and will instead go in wearing the nondescript Hall of Fame hat.
Was it the right choice?
Career with the Chicago Cubs
The Cubs drafted Maddux in the second round of the 1984 MLB draft. From there, Maddux went on to pitch for two seasons in the Chicago farm system before making his MLB debut in 1986.
Maddux struggled in this first two seasons in the bigs, going 8-18 with a 5.58 ERA. Starting in Year 3 (1988), Maddux finally hit his stride and began evolving into the pitcher we celebrate today.
Over the next five seasons, Maddux went 87-67 with a 3.00 ERA, culminating in his final year in Chicago in which he posted first 20-win season and took home his first of four straight Cy Young Awards.
Maddux had finally arrived as one of the premiere pitchers in all of baseball, but the Cubs were unable to re-sign the free agent and the Atlanta Braves would be the ones to reap the rewards.
Career with the Atlanta Braves
The obvious reason fans would have assumed Maddux would enter the Hall wearing an A on his hat his because he won three of his four Cy Young Awards while pitching for the Braves. Maddux may have ascended to top of the pitching ranks while in Chicago, but the majority of his time pitching as an elite starter happened in the ATL.
Of Maddux's 355 career wins, 194 of them were for the Braves (55 percent). He also recorded his best -- and one of the greatest all-time -- pitching seasons while in Atlanta. In 1995, Maddux went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA to secure his fourth CY Young Award in a row. He also went 3-1 in the postseason that year to help Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.
Maddux went to the playoffs 10 different times as a member of the Braves, whereas Mad Dog saw postseason action with Chicago only once. To put it into even better perspective, Maddux even went to the playoffs three times as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Right or Wrong Decision?
Ultimately, this was probably the correct decision for Maddux to make. Although his career was clearly more prolific with Atlanta, the Cubs did honor Maddux in 2009 by retiring his No. 31.
The number, which was also worn by Cubs legend Ferguson Jenkins, now waves proudly in the Windy City skies as it sits atop the right field foul pole at Wrigley Field.
As much as Maddux is considered a member of the Atlanta Braves first and foremost, he spent 11 seasons in Atlanta and 10 in Chicago. The classy thing for Maddux to do was to honor both cities and indeed foreo either club's logo.
After all, Chicago was the city that chased Steve Bartman out of town for having the audacity to try and catch a foul ball in 2003 -- who knows how they would have reacted if Maddux snubbed them with his Cooperstown choice.
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter who has been following the Atlanta Braves for over 20 years. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
- Sports & Recreation
- Atlanta Braves
- Greg Maddux
- Chicago Cubs