(Editor's Note: Sixth in a series recalling the 30 greatest moments in Cubs history.)
Greg Maddux is my all-time favorite Cub.
I watched Maddux grow up before my eyes, from a green rookie to the best pitcher of my generation. Maddux, besides being great, was reliable, modest, never made excuses when he failed, and was a great teammate. The team always came first. What was there not to admire about the guy?
Greg Maddux delivers a pitch en route to his 300th career victory on Aug. 7, 2004.
Nothing the Cubs front office has ever done angered me more than when general manager Larry Himes let the reigning Cy Young Award winner walk away from the team and sign with the Atlanta Braves following the 1992 season. Maddux went on to win the Cy Young in of his first three seasons with the Braves and went on to become one of the best pitchers of his generation.
Maddux re-signed with the Cubs prior to the 2004 season and his brief 2½-year return to the North Side near the end of his career offered me some consolation. The pinnacle of that period came on Aug. 7, 2004 in San Francisco when the 38-year-old Maddux became the 22nd pitcher in major league history to earn 300 wins and the first since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1924 to achieve the milestone in a Cubs uniform.
It wasn't one of Maddux's strongest efforts ( 5 IP, 4 ER, 7 H), but five relievers and an offense that included two-run homers by Corey Patterson and Moises Alou paved the way to a come-from-behind 8-4 Cubs victory.
Maddux exited the game in the sixth with a 6-3 lead, no outs and two runners on. Jon Leicester and Kent Mercker completed the sixth with the Cubs in front 6-4. Kyle Farnsworth got Dustan Mohr to ground out with the bases loaded in the eighth.
"It was a total team effort," said Maddux, who accomplished the feat in front of his wife, children, and parents. "It was great to see."
Maddux, humble as always, said he prepared for the game like any other and was more concerned with the playoff race than with his individual accomplishment.
"It's pretty special," Maddux said. "I like to look ahead. I've never really looked back. When I'm done playing I'll look back."
But his teammates acknowledged the feat by showering their veteran pitcher with champagne in the locker room following the game.
"I was so nervous and so excited," said Dave Maddux, Greg's father. "I saw him after the game and asked him if he was nervous. He said, `No, not really.' One of us had to be nervous. It's probably best that it was me. It was a great win, and a great team effort, because he didn't pitch real well. But the bullpen came in and, boy, I got so nervous then."
Maddux was traded by the Cubs to the Los Angeles Dodgers late in the 2006 season and finished his spectacular career in 2008. He ranks eighth all-time with 355 victories - one more than Roger Clemens.