Braves to retire Maddux's No. 31
Induction ceremony set for July 17 at Turner Field
PHILADELPHIA -- Greg Maddux arrived last and experienced the shortest tenure in Atlanta. But when reminiscing about the celebrated trio of starting pitchers who helped the Braves notch an unprecedented run of 14 consecutive division titles, it's impossible to ignore the fingerprints left by Maddux's prized right hand.
Maddux began his 11-season run with the Braves by winning the second of four National League Cy Young Awards and capped it by becoming the first Major League pitcher to record at least 15 wins over 16 consecutive seasons.
There will likely come a day when fans will have the opportunity to come to Turner Field to pay homage to the retired numbers of Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox.
But as the latter four continue their careers, the retired Maddux will be the first to find his No. 31 stationed beside the already retired numbers that belonged to Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews, Dale Murphy and Phil Niekro.
The Braves announced Sunday morning that they will retire Maddux's number and induct him into their Hall of Fame during a July 17 ceremony at Turner Field.
"His fingerprints are all over the success this club enjoyed from 1991-2005," Braves president John Schuerholz said. "Those kinds of guys who make that kind of impact deserve to be honored in the manner that we are going to honor Greg."
Maddux, who retired in December with the eighth-most wins (355) in Major League history, will also join Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins in Chicago this summer to have the number they shared with the Cubs retired. Both of these legendary right-handers wore No. 31 during their days in the Windy City.
Maddux joined the Braves two seasons into their unprecedented run of division titles and returned to Chicago before they capped this run with two more division titles. While playing in Atlanta from 1993-2003, his on-field success was measurable via incredible records and achievements. The off-the-mound contributions he brought the club continue to be recognized by Cox.
"We still miss having Greg around here," Cox said. "I don't know if you could ever find a better pitcher or a better teammate. It was a pleasure to have him around as long as we did."
While serving as the club's general manager in the winter of 1992, Schuerholz lured Maddux to Atlanta and simultaneously provided the ingredient that allowed Atlanta to own some of the greatest starting rotations the game has ever seen.
Joined with Glavine and Smoltz, who had already helped the Braves capture two consecutive division titles, Maddux made contributions that helped the Braves reach an unforeseen level of success. Along with notching 194 wins during his 11 seasons in Atlanta, the cerebral right-hander provided his wealth of knowledge to fellow pitchers and inquisitive hitters, who knew his ability to quickly detect the tendencies of opposing pitchers.
"When Mad Dog put on our uniform in 1993, he was sort of the booster rocket for all that was already good and healthy within our organization," Schuerholz said. "His impact on our winning, his impact on our championship image, his impact on how we were viewed by other organizations, was just immeasurable."
While making 363 starts for the Braves, Maddux went 194-88 with a 2.63 ERA, 61 complete games and a .688 winning percentage. During that 10-season span, he notched three more wins and completed 116 more innings (Glavine ranked second) than any other Major League pitcher. His ERA was just .03 points behind the mark of Pedro Martinez, whose total came via 455 2/3 fewer innings.
Maddux's greatest stretch came while capturing his four consecutive Cy Young Awards -- one with the Cubs and the final three with the Braves. During that four-year period, he went 75-29 with an unbelievable 1.98 ERA. During his first three seasons in Atlanta, he posted an even more impressive 1.90 ERA.
"I was the luckiest guy in the world hanging around Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux all of those years," Cox said this past winter. "It was a pleasure to watch them pitch and a pleasure to have them in our clubhouse."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.