08/07/2004 9:29 PM ET
Braves react to Maddux's 300th
Smoltz, Cox happy for former Brave's milestone
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
|John Smoltz got to see Greg Maddux's dominance first hand for years in Atlanta. (Gregory Smith/AP)
PHOENIX -- It might not have brought the same distress Oakland Raiders fans felt back in 1968, when Heidi interrupted their team's improbable comeback victory over the New York Jets.
But when the local FOX affiliate in Phoenix opted to air a MASH rerun, instead of the completion of Greg Maddux's historical win over the Giants on Saturday afternoon, the Braves clubhouse was filled with anger. They not only couldn't share the moment with their good friend. But now they couldn't even witness it.
Moments after completing their victory over the Diamondbacks, the Braves filtered into the clubhouse wanting to see the moment when Maddux officially became the 22nd pitcher in the grand history of this game to record his 300th win. Instead, all they saw was the completion of the eighth inning.
"I wish I could have watched it," Maddux's long-time Braves teammate John Smoltz said. "I don't know what they were thinking. I guess they figure these come around once a year."
Obviously, this occasion is rare and one that might not be realized by any other pitcher ever again. The only hurler that currently seems to stand a chance is Tom Glavine, who, like Maddux, will forever stand as a legendary figure in Braves lore.
"People make a big deal about numbers," Smoltz said. "But any time you're put in a select group, then they become pretty significant. This is just another notch in his belt. He was great, regardless of if he won 300 or not."
During his 11-year career with the Braves, Maddux notched 194 wins, captured three of his four consecutive Cy Young Awards and with his unmatched intellect made a lasting effect on an organization that has won 12 consecutive division titles.
"I think whenever you've been around a guy that has that kind of greatness about him, it's always a thrill," said Braves announcer Pete Van Wieren, who felt the same sense of pride for Maddux as he did when he had to learn of former Brave Phil Niekro winning his 300th game from afar. "You wish you were there to be a part of it. But on the other hand, the 11 years that he spent here certainly meant a lot to the history of this ballclub."
While he was visibly upset that he was unable to see Maddux reach the pinnacle of pitching milestones, Braves manager Bobby Cox still possessed joy knowing that the accomplishment had been reached.
"Any time you've been around a guy like Greg, you just want to see him do well and do things like this," Cox said. "He was just a wonderful guy to have around here all those years."
A few weeks ago, Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone joked that he was going to vomit when Maddux achieved history, because the hurler was no longer pitching in Atlanta. But when the moment arrived, Mazzone opted to take a different celebratory approach.
"I think 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," said Mazzone, who was in his current role from the time Maddux arrived in 1993 until he exited after last year.
As Saturday's action was progressing, Eddie Perez, who served as Maddux's personal catcher in Atlanta from 1996-2000, was getting frequent updates from Mike Hampton, who was keeping tabs of the Cubs-Giants game in the clubhouse.
"I got to spend a lot of those wins with him," Perez said. "So it feels good."
When told of Perez's comment, Chipper Jones responded, "[Eddie] was as much a part of Doggy's success while he was here as anyone. We all feel like we had a little hand in it. But I don't think there's any doubt, who the main contributor was. It was [Maddux]."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.