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The Madduxes are brothers in arms
07/22/2004 4:10 PM ET
Imagine being two American boys growing up in a foreign city, say, Madrid. Your father is in the Air Force, so you live on the base. Watching TV isn't really an option, because all the shows are in a language you can't understand. You need something to do, so you play baseball.

"We were like any other kids," said Mike Maddux of himself and his younger brother, Greg, "only our daycare was balls, gloves and bats."

The Maddux brothers -- Mike is the pitching coach for the Milwaukee Brewers and Greg is in the Chicago Cubs' rotation -- spent four years in Madrid. Their father, Dave, was in the Air Force, but he was also a dominant fast-pitch softball pitcher, and he developed the boys' interest in baseball, an interest that has never waned.

"It was all American kids on the base," said Greg. "We were kind of fenced in. Outside the base were ... [the Spanish kids]. I think that's where we learned how to throw. We used to have rock fights over the fence. It was all in good fun."

It was tough for the two Maddux boys to find enough kids to field a complete baseball team, so they created games.

"Usually, we had to play 'double or nothing,' " said Greg. "We'd close off right field, and anything hit to right field was a foul ball. We had a pitcher and left fielder, and the pitcher threw it and then covered second, and he would try to throw the guy out before he got to second. That's how we played."

Mike remembers a lot of competition between the two.

"We made each other try harder," he said. "The other guys just weren't any good."

Major League Baseball games were broadcast on Stars and Stripes radio once a week, but those games aired at around 1 a.m. in Madrid. The boys would tape games and listen to them the next day. They also read The Sporting News, but it was a week late getting across the Atlantic.

Most of the kids in the pickup baseball games were much older than Greg, who is five years younger than Mike.

"He was always my first-round draft pick," said Mike of his younger brother. "He was the second-best player out there. I'll take the young guy."

"They didn't have enough kids to kick me out," said Greg.

Playing against the bigger, older kids may have contributed to Greg's success in the big leagues.

"I knew that he had a jump-start on all of his age group because he was already broken in against my buddies," said Mike of his brother. "He overmatched the guys his own age. He just got in the habit of dominating."

In other brother combinations in the big leagues, the younger sibling is often the star. Think of Ken and George Brett, Sandy and Roberto Alomar. The exception is Cal and Billy Ripken, but Cal may have had an advantage because of his body type.

Mike, now 42, didn't get close to 300 wins in his big league career, totaling 39 victories with nine teams over 15 seasons.

"It seems like the younger ones gain a little advantage as time goes by," he said. "They have to fight a little bit harder to compete because they're giving up age. When you're 10 years old, that's a big, big hurdle."

"I don't know -- it didn't hurt," said Greg about playing with the older boys. "All I know is that all the TV was in Spanish, and we didn't understand it, so we went outside and we played."

But even if the brothers didn't match each other on the mound, they are very similar off the field.

"I would say it's the same book, different covers," said Mike. "You might think he's more serious than me, but get to know both of us, and we're a lot alike. Maybe I'm more extroverted than he is."

"He's a little bit further out there than I am," said Greg of Mike. "We have a lot in common -- hobbies, beliefs, sense of humor, stuff like that. We have a lot in common."

Both are incredibly competitive yet have a bizarre sense of humor. When they play golf, they don't wager money on each round. Instead the winner gives the loser a "wedgie."

"I think talent made us different pitchers," said Mike. "You can't parallel his career to anybody's, really. To compare his career to mine is not fair to me, and to compare mine to his shows you how good he is."

Greg believes the Brewers are fortunate to have Mike as their pitching coach, as Mike has the one quality he himself looks for.

"He's doing good at it, and he likes it," he said. "That's the important thing. He really likes it. I've been around a lot of coaches, and some like it more than others. I think he's one of [those who] really enjoys doing what he's doing. I think he enjoys coaching as much as he enjoys playing."

The two brothers now find themselves in the same division, and friendly rivals.

"It's good for the families to be able to hook up because we're so close," said Mike. "I have always rooted for him, but when we play each other, we're professionals. We're trying to beat him, and he's trying to beat us. If I had my druthers, we'd beat him, 1-0."

"That's nice of him," said Greg, laughing. "That's brotherly, isn't it?"

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.