Greg Maddux pitched his final major league game in 2008. From there, all that was left to do was wait the requisite five years for his career-capping honor. Only a downed phone line would have kept the Las Vegan from learning Wednesday morning that, in his first year of eligibility, he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Nobody in the prestigious hall has ever garnered a unanimous vote, since there’s always some self-righteous do-gooder who feels that’s just a bridge too far. But as reported by the Review-Journal’s Steve Carp, Mr. Maddux came quite close, appearing on 97.2 percent of the ballots in receiving 555 of a possible 571 votes. And rightly so.
The right-hander’s career numbers put him in the upper echelon of anyone who has ever pitched in the big leagues, regardless of era. The former Valley High School standout was drafted by the Chicago Cubs as an 18-year-old in 1984, made his first appearance in the majors as a 20-year-old in 1986 and had a sparkling 23-season career. Mr. Maddux won four consecutive National League Cy Young Awards, from 1992-95, a feat that nobody else has accomplished. In 1995, he collected his lone World Series ring, helping the Atlanta Braves to the title.
He was never an overpowering pitcher and never threw a no-hitter, but his craftiness, accuracy and ability to work the strike zone led to a complete game in 1997 in which he threw just 76 pitches. He posted 17 consecutive seasons of at least 15 wins, a major league record. He finished with 355 career wins and 3,371 strikeouts. He pitched in 35 postseason games and eight All-Star Games.
And yes, he could actually field his position, winning 18 Gold Glove awards in his 23 years. He did all of that in an era that we’ve since learned was dominated by steroid use, making his achievements stand out even more.
Part-time Southern Nevada resident and full-time slugger Frank Thomas, who belted 521 home runs and had a career batting average of .301, with 2,468 hits and 1,704 RBIs, mostly for the Chicago White Sox, was also voted into the hall, as was Tom Glavine, Mr. Maddux’s teammate with the Braves and a fellow 300-game winner.
But make no mistake, Mr. Maddux is at the head of this class, and kudos to him for that fact. All Southern Nevadans should take pride in Mr. Maddux’s crowning achievement.