When the Chicago Cubs selected Valley High School pitcher Greg Maddux in the second round of the 1984 Major League Baseball Draft, nobody could have predicted the career he would have. The Las Vegan won 355 games in 23 seasons, four consecutive Cy Young Awards (1992-95) as the National League’s top pitcher and a record 18 Gold Gloves for fielding excellence. He is the only pitcher in major league history to win at least 15 games for 17 consecutive seasons, one of 10 pitchers ever to collect 300 wins and 3,000 strikeouts, and Sports Illustrated once called him “the best right-handed pitcher born in the past 100 years.” Despite the accolades, Maddux, 44, remains extremely low-key since retiring after the 2008 season, playing golf whenever possible (he’s about a 3 handicap) and evaluating pitchers in his role as a special assistant to the general manager with the Cubs.
If you could have any job in baseball, what would it be?
I think right now I have the perfect job in baseball. I’m able to stay in the game and still stay here in Vegas with the family. I’m working strictly on a part-time basis, which is what I want to do right now. When the kids grow up and get out of the house, if I have an opportunity to get back in the game, at least I’ll have been in it without actually being in it. That’s kind of why I’m doing what I’m doing right now, and I also enjoy it.
Are you as competitive on the golf course as you were on the pitcher’s mound?
I don’t know if you want to say I’ve lost my competitive edge or not, but I really don’t think about it. I enjoy playing golf for different reasons, and most of it is that I just appreciate the game and I’m always kind of playing against myself or the game itself, and at the same time enjoying the people I’m playing golf with that day. But I guess my competitive nature is nothing what it’s like when you’re on the mound pitching, trying to win a game for your team.
Do you think we’ve seen the last of the 300-game winners?
No, I don’t. I was hearing there would be no more 300-game winners back when I was playing. And then [Roger] Clemens did it, Randy Johnson did it, [Tom] Glavine did it, so I think there will be another group that comes through 10, 15, 20 years down the road that will also do it. I think athletes take better care of themselves these days; they’re going to be able to pitch longer. Obviously they’re not going to get the 40 starts a year like most of the 300-game winners had, but I think they’re still going to get a chance to start 700, 800 games and have a pretty good chance to do it.
Now that you’ve had a chance to see how you stack up statistically among pitchers in major league history, how does it make you feel?
I feel very proud of the career I had. I feel good about the longevity of my career. That’s one of the things you try to stress now when you’re a little bit on the coaching side is that you don’t really have to be that good a pitcher to have a very good career; you just have to do it for a long time. I only won 20 games twice out of 23 seasons, and you would think to win as many games as I did, you would probably have to win 20 games a year more than I did, but you don’t. You just have to make your starts. If you pitch pretty good and you win half of your starts, if you’re lucky enough to make 600 starts, there’s your 300 wins right there.
How would you rate Las Vegas as a baseball town?
It’s very good. There are club leagues all over the city, there’s Little League, there’s Legion and we have over 40 high schools here now. I know from being on the professional side of things that this area is heavily scouted, and there’s not a player here in Vegas that’s going to get overlooked just because of the number of scouts that come in here every year to watch the kids play.
What involvement do you have in the community?
I have my golf tournament here, and we’re going to have that again in October. We give money locally to Safe Nest and Child Haven, and we do it with [golf instructor] Butch Harmon. Last year he picked the Wounded Warriors, so we have about three charities involved with the golf tournament. We do a lot for Safe Nest. My wife is heavily involved with them. I do a little bit of coaching now with my kid and his friends, as far as the baseball goes, trying to teach them what I learned over the years. Hopefully that’s stuff they can apply not only on the baseball field but also off of it.
What do you enjoy doing most when you’re here?
I really enjoy playing golf and maybe just grilling some steaks in the backyard. I enjoy hanging in and having dinner and watching TV with the family.