Cubs: Hall of Fame weekend takes Greg Maddux back to his youth

Cubs: Hall of Fame weekend takes Greg Maddux back to his youth
July 26, 2014, 3:45 pm
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Greg Maddux remembers his George Foster moment like it was yesterday.

He was just a boy then, on a family vacation to Cincinnati and their trip included a Reds game at Riverfront Stadium, the first game Maddux had ever attended.

At some point during the game, Foster, who played left field for the Reds, went over the fence and robbed a home run, a play Maddux still recalls thinking was “pretty cool.”

Now on the verge of induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, Maddux -- who will gain entry along with White Sox slugger Frank Thomas, fellow Braves pitcher Tom Glavine and managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox -- said Saturday he has been able to relive some of his youth this weekend.

“I got to meet a lot of my childhood heroes,” Maddux said Saturday. “Lou Brock was pretty cool. I got a kick out of seeing Johnny Bench and Tony Perez because I grew up a Reds fan. For me, that’s the baseball card I wanted when I bought my pack. I wanted all the Reds. It was kind of cool seeing those guys.”

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Showing the same poise and calm that was a staple of his 23-year career, Maddux said he doesn’t feel very anxious about the weekend’s events, including Sunday’s ceremony, which could come in front of a record crowd.

He’s the only person of the six whose speech isn’t expected to last the suggested 10 minutes (estimates are for around seven). Maddux said he plans to read from a script because he’s been advised it’s the best way to avoid getting lost.

He’s also very confident in his decision not to have his Hall of Fame plaque feature a team logo on the hat. With 12 pro seasons in Chicago and 11 with the Braves, Maddux said he wouldn’t feel right if he slighted either club.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t play in Chicago and I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t play in Atlanta,” Maddux said. “Pick one over the other, to me it just didn’t feel right.

“I did what I felt was right. I made it. I’m very comfortable with it.”

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He’s also more relaxed -- to a degree -- discussing his own achievements, something he rarely did as a player. Though it was clear to everyone else during his 355-win career that Maddux was a sure-fire Hall of Famer, he said he didn’t start to think about it until after he retired. Instead, he always preferred to focus on getting better for his next start.

But now that he’s finished and on the verge of being enshrined in baseball’s hallowed grounds, Maddux is more willing to accept that he might have given another young player their own Foster moment, though he admits, “they haven’t told (him) yet.”

“You’re very fortunate to play the game,” Maddux said. “You’re very fortunate to play the game you actually get paid to play. All that stuff that goes on around the side, it just happens. The bottom line is you’re very fortunate to be doing something you wanted to do since you were a kid.”