Saturday May 28th, 2016 4:19AM

Complete game: Greg Maddux announces retirement

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor
LAS VEGAS -- Greg Maddux grew up with the same weekend ritual as so many other American kids.

Tagging along with his big brother, he would run down to the park to play ball against the older guys from the neighborhood in regular Sunday scrimmages.

He met a pitching coach who preached movement over velocity, and pretty soon Maddux was striking out those stronger teenagers. Nearly three decades later, he walked away from baseball Monday as one of the greatest pitchers to put on a uniform.

After 355 wins and 23 major league seasons, Maddux held a 30-minute news conference to announce his retirement on the opening day of the winter meetings - only minutes from his Las Vegas home.

"I really just came out here today to say thank you," he said in a ballroom at the swanky Bellagio hotel. "I appreciate everything this game has given me. It's going to be hard to walk away obviously, but it's time. I have a family now that I need to spend some more time with. I still think I can play the game, but not as well as I would like to, so it's time to say goodbye."

Next stop, the Hall of Fame.

Wearing a casual shirt and slacks, Maddux spoke softly on stage and never lost his composure. His family sat in the front rows, including brother Mike Maddux, the Texas Rangers pitching coach and a former big leaguer himself.

A large poster with photos of Greg Maddux hung behind the podium. He was introduced by agent Scott Boras, who said his client had a "model" career.

"Mad Dog threw a shutout today," said Bobby Cox, who managed Maddux during his dominant years with Atlanta. "Special, special guy. I get choked up talking about him."

Maddux leaves the game with four NL Cy Young Awards (1992-95) and a 3.16 ERA, especially impressive in the steroid era. The right-hander ranks eighth on the career wins list, with one more victory than Roger Clemens.

"I never changed," said Maddux, who turns 43 in April. "I think, hey, you locate your fastball and you change speeds no matter who is hitting."

He started to learn those lessons when he was about 15 from Ralph Medar, a local coach in Las Vegas who tutored Maddux in the fine art of pitching.

Before long, he was way ahead of the older kids.

"I just feel lucky to have seen it day in and day out for so long," Mike Maddux said.

In the big leagues, Greg Maddux thrived on smarts, movement and pinpoint control rather than overpowering heat. Throwing strikes and inducing grounders, he could get through eight innings on 80 pitches in under 2 hours.

At his best, Maddux featured a tailing fastball that froze left-handed hitters before darting back across the inside corner. With such sharp and unusual action, the pitch almost seemed to be a Maddux invention. One thing was certain, he mastered it like no one else.

"Precision. I don't know how to describe him other than that," Cox said. "He's taught a lot of guys to try to do it. But nobody does it like him. Nobody."

In Atlanta, Maddux teamed with fellow 300-game winner Tom Glavine and gritty ace John Smoltz to pitch the Braves to the 1995 World Series championship and an incredible string of division titles.

In fact, perhaps the biggest decision of Maddux's career also came at the winter meetings, when he spurned a higher offer from the New York Yankees for a five-year deal with Atlanta during the December 1992 session in Louisville, Ky.

An eight-time All-Star, Maddux won 13 or more games in 20 consecutive seasons - a streak that ended this year. He spent his final season with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, finishing 355-227. His remarkable resume includes a record 18 Gold Gloves, including one this year.

Maddux broke into the majors in 1986 with the Cubs and pitched for Chicago again from 2004-06. He finished with 3,371 strikeouts, 10th on the career list.

"Everybody says he wasn't a strikeout guy. He was a strikeout guy," Cox said. "He'd get the strikeouts - first inning, man on third, one out, infield back, give 'em a run - believe me, he'd strike out the hitter."

Maddux was 8-13 with a 4.22 ERA during his final season. He made three relief appearances in the playoffs for the NL West champion Dodgers without allowing an earned run in four innings. Then, he filed for free agency amid speculation he would retire.

Plans for his farewell news conference were announced Friday, but Maddux made up his mind long ago.

"I think I decided actually two years ago, but I ended up playing one more year anyway," he said. "But I pretty much knew last spring training. I had kind of told some teammates and some people in baseball that this was going to be my last year. I don't think they really believed me, but I think I was telling the truth that time."

Maddux said he'll miss all sorts of things that came with major league life: poker games on the plane, golf outings on road trips, hanging out with his teammates.

He didn't rule out coaching in the future, but for now he's ready to stay off the field.

"Right now I think I want to take a year off and spend time with the family, do things that I have not been able to do because of baseball, and see if I like it or not," Maddux said. "I assume I'll like it, but I also don't know about being out of the game. I don't really know a whole lot about anything, but I feel like I know a few things about baseball. I'm going to miss it, and hopefully I won't miss it too much."
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tech's Johnson, Walker headed to Senior Bowl
Two members of Georgia Tech's defensive line have another game waiting after Wednesday night's Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU.
8:23AM ( 7 years ago )
Lady Dogs fall to Xavier
Xavier used an 18-0 second-half run to turn a six-point deficit into a 12-post lead en route to a 56-44 win over Georgia before a crowd of 4,534 at Stegeman Coliseum on Tuesday night.
11:25PM ( 7 years ago )
Hawks push win streak to six with win over Pacers
Joe Johnson scored 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, and the streaking Atlanta Hawks beat the Indiana Pacers 110-104 on Tuesday night. Josh Smith had 24 points, Mike Bibby scored 15 and Al Horford added 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks, who have won six straight games and nine of 10.
11:16PM ( 7 years ago )
Falcons' Turner involved in domestic dispute
Falcons running back Michael Turner was involved in a domestic dispute Monday night with the mother of his infant child, according to Gwinnett Police.
8:13PM ( 7 years ago )
Ryan wins Offensive Rookie award
Matt Ryan is more than the face of the sensational turnaround by the Atlanta Falcons. He also is the best member of a superb rookie crop, earning The Associated Press 2008 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award Tuesday.
1:02PM ( 7 years ago )
2008 best-ever year for area sports?
Was 2008 the best-ever year for area sports? Well, it depends on your definition of best...
1:00PM ( 7 years ago )
Professional Sports
Kanaan leads Carb Day practice for Sunday’s Indy 500
He may be starting 18th in Sunday’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, but Tony Kanaan believes he has a car that can win the historic race.
By IndyCar Media
1:54AM ( 2 hours ago )
Markakis has 2-run single in 8th, Braves top Marlins 4-2
Nick Markakis hit a tie-breaking, two-run single off third baseman Nick Prado's glove with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning and the Atlanta Braves beat the Miami Marlins 4-2 on Friday night for a rare home win.
By The Associated Press
11:06PM ( 5 hours ago )
Basketball: Area coaches see a 'positive' change to GHSA finals move
The response amongst northeast Georgia's coaches was overwhelmingly positive following the Georgia High School Association's announcement on Thursday that it will no longer hold its annual basketball championship games in the Macon Coliseum.
10:49PM ( 5 hours ago )
Braves recall Garcia, designate Brignac for assignment
Atlanta Braves utility infielder Reid Brignac has been designated for assignment and third baseman Adonis Garcia has been recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.
By The Associated Press
9:17PM ( 7 hours ago )
VIDEO: Historic postseason brought countless top plays
This year provided perhaps the most successful overall postseason campaign in the history of the sport in this area. And we have compiled some of the best highlights involved in that campaign here...
9:05PM ( 7 hours ago )