The Ole Professor

Another era came to end in Chicago on Monday when the Cubs traded Greg Maddux to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubs Faithful knew the trade was coming but that does not make it any easier to see him in yet another uniform. Maddux was a special player and the quintessential pro and from all accounts the ultimate teammate. Maddux always took responsibility for his mistakes but rarely took credit for any of his successes.

Greg Maddux will go down in history as one of the best pitchers to ever take the mound but this article is not about the numbers, not about the accolades, not about his place in history, this article is about the indelible impression that Greg Maddux has left on the Cubs Faithful from every contributor here at the CCO, I invite you to share your memories of Maddux as well. Be sure to check the pictures and photo gallery taken on Saturday at Wrigley the last performance of Maddux in a Cubs’ uniform.

Thank you Greg from everyone here at the CCO, you taught us all so much.

(Neil) Leader, teacher, teammate, integrity, competitor, winner and professional are words that come to my mind that describes Greg Maddux. You never see him pointing a finger at others, you never see him patting himself on the back.

I am very thankful I was able to witness two of his last three victories in a Cubs’ uniform. He was good in Cincinnati but great last Saturday at Wrigley and I remember thinking that when he tipped his cap, that was it and he knew he was leaving. I have witnessed some very special moments in Sports history in person but last Saturday will go down as one of those days I will never forget.

(Jason) Greg Maddux was, in my opinion, the greatest pitcher in Cubs history, and one of the greatest in all of MLB history. He always showed up to work, never complained, took the ball every 5 days, and was the ultimate professional and the team player. Whether he won or lost, I always felt like he gave his best effort, and for that he always had my respect and admiration. If I was able to have any one Major Leaguer speak to my sons about how to play the game of baseball, the Professor would be an easy choice. I give thanks to Maddux for always entertaining me every time he pitched, always taking responsibility for his performance, and never making excuses. I am glad our last image of him in Cubbie blue ended with the tip of his cap, and with one more “W” added to his legend.

(Shaun) Saturday was a very emotional day for me. When Mad Dog left the game in the 7th inning he tipped his cap acknowledged the crowd and I knew that was the last time I would ever see Greg Maddux in the Cubbie Pinstripes. I looked at my wife Heidi and said that’s it, Maddux part II is over….for good. Neil was at the game as well on Saturday with his wife Abby and Brian. I can see Brian’s seats from mine, once he tipped the cap before he entered the dugout I found Neil in the crowd and we both new that was it. I am just happy we were there; I was able to see one of the best pitchers of all time step to the mound on many occasions. When the Cubs brought Maddux back home in the off-season of ’04 he was the opening day pitcher at Wrigley. He got shelled, but the Faithful didn’t care Maddux was back in Chicago, a place he never should have left.

In the summer of ’04 my wife and I went to a local tavern in Chicago after a Saturday afternoon Cubs game. We sat at the bar and ordered two beers. I was wearing a Cubs warm up jersey, the ones they wear during batting practice. The bartender points to the back of the bar and said did you see who is playing golden tee? We turned around and Maddux, Alou and Kent Mercker were all hanging out after the game playing some GT. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass, I ran to the CVS across the street bought a sharpie and asked Greg to sign my jersey. He did with a smile. That night I bummed a chew and played Golden Tee with Greg Maddux. It is a night my buddy Jeff, my wife and I will never forget. You hear stories about athletes and how ignorant they can be to the people that adore them. Maddux was the complete opposite. Now Kent Merker danced with my wife as Prince played from the Juke Box, but what did I care I was talking baseball with one the best to ever play the game. Thanks for coming back Maddux, and thanks for understanding why you had to leave.

(Brian) “Hey, who is that dork pitching for the Cubs?” my mom muttered on day in 1986. “Look at the geek pitching, who is that?” she added. I said I did not really know. Well, twenty years later that dork has become one of the greatest pitchers in the history of Baseball. Growing up as a baseball fan, all one wants to do is be a major league player and Greg Maddux made that seem possible. He was not tall or strong, he did not have an overpowering fastball or a huge hook. If he could play in the pros, anyone could.

Greg Maddux matured into a special type of player, a pitcher who knew the game, understood the strategy and above all, respected the game, its rules, written and unwritten, and its tradition. He took pride in educating young players, looking out for rookies and respecting the clubhouse kid. He was the consummate professional, an example to be followed for generations. I was heartbroken when he left Chicago the first time, and though he leaves under different circumstances now, I am still saddened. He was a wizard, a genius, one of the last true students of this great game and he will be sorely missed. In their short careers both Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol have gushed about Greg and the knowledge he has bestowed on them. He leaves behind a great legacy and many great memories. From his first Cy Young to his more recent accomplishments of 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts.

I have spoken at great length of many fond memories from my experiences at Wrigley, but last Saturday will always be one of the greatest. He received two standing ovations and on the second, as he waved his cap, I knew I would never forget that moment. I was privy to one of the greatest pitchers off all time saying thank you to the greatest fans in sports, it was truly a momentous occasion. I just want to thank Greg Maddux for his service to the Cubs and the great city of Chicago and I wish him the best of luck throughout the rest of his career.

Stay Classy Greg!!

Maddux’s Last At-Bat

No Greg, Thank You!!

Click Here for a Photo Gallery of Greg Maddux from Saturday

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe