NEW YORK (Reuters) - Greg Maddux brought the curtain down on his career on Monday, announcing his retirement after 23 seasons and 355 wins and a place in the Hall of Fame beckoning when he becomes eligible in five years.
“The game’s given me and my family so much,” the 42-year-old pitcher told a news conference at Major League Baseball’s (MLB) winter meetings in Las Vegas.
“The one thing I hope is I gave back. I played the way I would want my team mates to play. I’ll miss it,” added Maddux, who placed his fastball with precision and changed speeds to keep hitters off balance.
The man nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ for his competitive fire compiled a 355-227 record for the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers and claimed four successive Cy Young Awards from 1992 as best pitcher in the National League.
“I’m very proud of what I did on the baseball field,” said the softly-spoken right-hander, who also earned 18 Gold Gloves as the league’s best fielding pitcher.
After his late season call-up by the Cubs in 1986 and a struggle in his first full season in 1987, Maddux used his impeccable control and feel for pitching to dominate.
In 1988 he started a string of 17 consecutive seasons with at least 15 wins including a pair of 20-win years and five seasons with 19 victories.
Twelve times Maddux pitched more than 200 innings in a season while issuing fewer than 35 unintentional walks.
Leo Mazzone, his pitching coach during his 1993-2003 tenure with the Braves, said: “He’s the greatest pitcher I’ve ever seen. He can hit a target like no pitcher I’ve ever seen.”
Maddux was 8-13 with a 4.22 earned run average last season with the Padres and Dodgers to go eighth on baseball’s all-time wins list.
“I’ll miss pitching,” he said. “I’ll miss hitting and running the bases.
“I’ll miss sitting on the bench trying to guess what pitch is coming next and where it will be hit.”
Writing by Larry Fine, Editing by Tony Jimenez