History in the making
What can I say about Greg Maddux that hasn’t already been said.
A first ballot Hall of Famer, winner of 355 games and four Cy Young Awards. He was part of the Atlanta Braves’ historic run of National League East division crowns and, before that, he broke onto the scene with the Chicago Cubs.
But his first absolutely dominant campaign came in 1992, at the age of 26. The first – and only – 20-win season Maddux ever put together, he also earned his first Cy Young. 20-11, the crafty right-hander racked up the innings, too, totaling 268 innings.
It also proved to be his final season in Chicago – at least the first go-round.
Near the All-Star break, Maddux says the front office essentially ran him down, reminding him of all the things he had yet to accomplish in his young career.
"“They told me I had never won 20 games or a Cy Young,” Maddux remembers. “They basically told me I wasn’t very good.”"
From there, as the Daily Herald points out, Maddux turned it up a notch, working to prove a point. He won 10 games after the break, pitching to a 1.93 ERA in the second half, including five complete games and four shutouts. Oh, and he took home his Cy Young honors the team had told him he lacked just months prior.
After that, he headed to the Atlanta Braves, who opened the subsequent season at the Confines. Losing Maddux has always been a major sore spot for Chicago Cubs fans. He’s arguably one of the best pitchers to ever wear a Cubs uniform and the team let him walk.
The mid-90s were a brutal time for Chicago, seemingly never putting an above-average squad on the field. Add in the insult of losing a Hall of Fame pitcher and it’s easy to understand why fans, to this day, wonder what might have been.