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Greg Maddux gets Hall call with 97.2 percent of the vote

Updated: January 8, 2014 3:09PM

Few who saw Greg Maddux in his Cubs debut as a pinch runner on Sept. 3, 1986 would have pictured the skinny pitching prospect becoming one of the game’s most dominating players.

Fewer would have imagined him making an historic entry into baseball’s most exclusive club.

It came true Wednesday for him as he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with 97.2 percent of the eligible votes.

He becomes the 51st former Cubs player, manager or executive to earn induction and the 40th player to have spent all or part of his career in a Cubs uniform.

He won election with former Atlanta teammate Tom Glavine and White Sox slugger Frank Thomas--all three selected in their first year of eligibility and only one year after the voting Baseball Writers of America gave no one the necessary 75 percent vote total.

Maddux enters the Hall with a lifetime record of 355-227—despite having only two seasons of 20 or more victories. Those came in 1992—the year he won the first of his four Cy Young Award and the year the Cubs let him leave as a free agent--and in 1993.

But he went on to rank eighth all-time in victories, with 133 of them coming in a Cubs uniform over two stints with the team.

He spent 10 years with the Cubs and 11 with the Atlanta Braves, the team he helped lead to dominating standing in baseball through the 1990s.

``He individually completely changed two organizations,’’ said former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who became a close friend to the pitcher he brought back to the team in 2004. ``He made the difference for the Braves, and it killed the Cubs.’’

Maddux won more games with the Braves, but his historic 300th victory and his 3,000th strikeout came as a Cub.

His No. 31—also worn by Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins—was retired for both players in 2009.

``I join my family, the Cubs organization and Cubs fans in congratulating Greg on this tremendous honor,’’ Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. ``He is one of the gretest pitchers of all time and a tremendous competitor who earned the nickname ``Mad Dog’’ whenever he took the mound. His near-unanimous selection is the ultimate salute to an extraordinary career.’’

Maddux’ dominating skills came more from his mastery of control than overpowering strength, and on Wednesday, he took time to credit his former Cubs coaches Dick Pole and Billy Connors for turning around his career.

``Pole taught me my mechanics, and Bill took it to the next level,’’ he said. ``I like to think I learned something from all my coaches, even as far back as Rick Kranitz in Rookie Ball.’’

Maddux was selected by the Cubs in the second round of the 1984 draft. He spent two different stints with the team, from 1986 to 1992 and returned in 2004 to 2006.

``I came up a Cub,’’ he said. ``If you count the years in the minors, I spent probably 11 years with the Cubs and the 11 years with the Braves.’’

He pitched 5,008 1/3 innings, compiling a 3.16 lifetime ERA with 3,371 strikeouts—ranking 10th on that all-time list.

But as remarkable were his 18 Gold Gloves for fielding excellence—the most all-time at any position.

He won a World Series championship with the Braves in 1995, his only championship in 13 postseason years. His first was in 1989 with the Cubs, and he also played on three post-season teams with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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