08/07/2004 9:30 PM ET
Players league-wide praise Maddux
Clemens, Glavine, Smoltz among well-wishers
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
Greg Maddux, the Chicago Cubs right-hander who has spent his 19-year career baffling hitters with pinpoint accuracy and consistently changing speeds, became the 22nd pitcher in Major League history to record at least 300 wins in San Francisco on Saturday. It was the second time in the last 14 months that the milestone has been reached.
Before Roger Clemens did it on June 13, 2003, for the Yankees over the Cardinals at Yankee Stadium, it hadn't happened in 13 years. Nolan Ryan was pitching for the Texas Rangers on July 31, 1990, when he beat Milwaukee for No. 300.
Clemens, who pitches against the Expos on Sunday in Houston, said he made a congratulatory phone call to Maddux, but couldn't get ahold of him.
"It's obviously great what he did. It's well-deserved," said Clemens, who also notched his 4,000th strikeout on the night he recorded his 300th win. "I'm sure it was special for him, I know it was for me. He really knows how to pitch. I mean, the things he does consistently are the things we all try to do: change speeds and hit your spots. We'd all like to do those things and try to do them, but there aren't many who have been consistently successful like he's been."
Clemens now has 322 wins, 13th on the list and only two behind Ryan and Don Sutton. His 4,246 strikeouts are second behind Ryan's 5,714.
Reaction praising Maddux for his accomplishment came pouring in from all over the Major Leagues. He pitched five innings, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking three and striking out three as the Cubs came from behind to defeat the Giants, 8-4, at SBC Park.
"I'm very proud of him," said Tom Glavine, the New York Mets left-hander and former teammate with Maddux on the Braves, who's next up for the 300 plateau with 259 wins. "And I'm proud I had the opportunity to play with him. He was the epitome of consistency over his career. He's done a wonderful job to get to the point he's at.
"Those who know him will probably show much more excitement and emotion over it than he will. At some point, though, he'll break down and let everyone know what his career has meant to him. But I don't anticipate it at 300."
Joe Torre, the Yankees manager who was on the bench last year when Clemens recorded No. 300 and was behind the plate for the Milwaukee Braves when Warren Spahn reached the same mark back in 1961, said these kind of spectacular feats never get old.
"It's great to see a pitcher of his class and determination accomplish that," Torre said. "He's a little guy, and he gives hope to all of the kids who use him as a role model. He doesn't throw hard, this is strictly hard work. His game is more psychological than anything else. He's done nothing but work hard his whole career. He's taken nothing for granted. He's easy to like."
Ditto Bobby Cox, the Braves manager, who said he was fortunate enough to have Maddux on his pitching staff for 11 seasons -- 1993 to 2003.
"This has always been a special place for me," Greg Maddux said of Chicago. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)
"It's just great to see him get this," Cox said. "I just wish we could have been there with him or just been at least able to see it. Any time you've been around a guy like Greg, you just want to see him do well and do things like this. He was just a wonderful guy to have around here all those years."
Pedro Martinez, who won the 178th game of his career in Detroit on Saturday when he defeated the Tigers, said Maddux has made the most of the talent he has.
"Winning 300 is not easy for anybody," said Martinez, who is 178-71 for a .715 winning percentage. "For Maddux to do it, he just had to take what God has given him.
"I'm going to go have a nice glass of wine and toast him for all that he gave this organization and for making me look smart."
-- Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone
"(He has) talent I've never seen anyone else have. He has a back-door sinker and wisdom to actually outsmart anybody in the game. I'm so glad somebody small, someone looking like me, actually did it. I'm very happy for him and I wish him all the best and I hope he doesn't stop there."
It was the third significant milestone reached by a big-league player this season.
In April, Barry Bonds tied and passed his godfather, Willie Mays, by hitting his 660th and 661st homers to go into third place on the all-time list behind Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755). Bonds currently has 687 homers and should reach the 700 plateau before the end of the season.
In June, Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 500th homer, becoming the 21st player in baseball history to reach that mark.
Next up for Maddux, who's 11-7 with a 3.99 earned run average, will be grabbing his 15th win for a record 17th consecutive season.
Win No. 300 didn't take long. It came on his second opportunity. Last year, it took Clemens four starts to record the big win.
"There are guys who press when they get close to these kinds of things. But Greg doesn't," Cox said. "When he was going for that 15th win last year, he wasn't pressing as much as his teammates."
"It was just a matter of time," said John Smoltz, who was in the Braves rotation with Maddux and Glavine and now is Atlanta's closer. "All the people that are following him around, I'm sure they're happy, because he's not going to make a big deal about it. The next thing they'll be talking about is Greg trying to get 15 again. He's put up some incredible stuff."
Predictably, there was plenty of reaction out of Atlanta where Maddux won 194 games. Maddux left the Braves last winter and signed a free agent contract to return to the Cubs, the team he came up with in 1986.
"We were with him," said Leo Mazzone, the Braves long-time pitching coach. "Everybody in (our clubhouse) was pulling for this. I'm going to go have a nice glass of wine and toast him for all that he gave this organization and for making me look smart."
"I got to spend a lot of those wins with him," said Eddie Perez, Maddux's personal catcher from 1996 to 2000, and still Atlanta's backup. "So it feels good. Everybody in here that played with Doggie feels good. We feel honored to have had him in the organization. It wasn't just about catching him. It was about having him around to tell you what to do and getting to learn from him."
"We all feel like we had a little hand in it," said Chipper Jones, who came up with the Braves for good in 1995, the year they defeated the Indians to win their only World Series of this era. "But I don't think there's any doubt who the main contributor was."
"He was the smartest pitcher I've played with or against," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, the former shortstop who played part of the 1998 season with Maddux and the Braves. "Maddux has so many ways to get you out, with the cutter and change. And remember, Maddux was .500 when he first reached primetime. Now he's a pitcher."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. Mark Feinsand, Ian Browne, Allyson Footer, Mark Bowman, Scott Merkin and Kevin Czerwinski contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.