COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Greg Maddux got the biggest laugh of the day during Sunday's Hall of Fame ceremony when the former Cubs great explained he left for Atlanta in 1992 because he wanted a World Series ring.
After a brief pause, Maddux said with a grin, "Sorry, Chicago."
It was vintage Maddux, who threw a few changeups into the typical Hall of Fame speech by joking about catchers getting dinged in the face with foul balls and an old trick his brother, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, taught him that involved a lighter and passing gas.
Maddux was so calm, cool and collected that Joe Torre said during his speech Maddux "has no pulse." He didn't go too long and thanked only the people he felt made a difference in his career.
Teammate Tom Glavine told Maddux it was the first time he had seen him wear a tie.
"I reused this," Maddux said, pulling on it. "My daughter had a fraternity party back in January, and it was still tied, so I didn't even have to re-tie it. It's like the second time this year."
Maddux said his "nerves were so high" he didn't know Cubs fans were as raucous as they were during his speech. Even though his glory days were with the Braves, North Siders never got him out of their minds.
Maddux mentioned several managers, pitching coaches and catchers from his two stints with the Cubs, and he thanked former general manager Jim Hendry and former assistant GM Gary Hughes for bringing him back in 2004. His decision to have no logo on his cap on his Hall of Fame plaque showed how much he thought about the city and its fans, and it was basically Hendry and Hughes who were responsible for that.
"I loved Chicago so much the first time I played there," Maddux told the crowd. "I was very grateful Gary Hughes and Jim Hendry brought me back over to Chicago. That would give me a second chance to win there and maybe retire where it all started. But I wouldn't be a Cub if I couldn't handle a little heartache. We missed the postseason by one game my first year back."
Afterward, he said "both places were very special to me. I learned how to pitch in Chicago, and I learned how to win and raise a family in Atlanta. Both places were equally important in my career, and I wanted to make that clear. It's like I've got two kids. I can't tell you which one I like the most ... I love both places equally."
Maddux's speech was equal parts Cubs and Braves. He talked about how his former minor league pitching coach, Rick Kranitz, taught him how to throw a changeup and how another former pitching coach, Dick Pole, taught him the delivery that was consistent from start to finish.
He recalled his first day in the big leagues, when his first manager, Gene Michael, "thought I was the batboy."
"The nickname stuck for a few years but faded over time," he said.
He later became "the Professor" because of his encyclopedic knowledge of hitters' tendencies and "Mad Dog" because, well, he was a little crazy. That was apparent when he thanked his brother for teaching him "a little bit about science... with a little methane and a lighter.
"And I still get a huge kick out of it today," he said.
Having fun was Maddux's calling card, and he mastered that with the same intensity he dominated opposing hitters.
In the end, he was just thankful to be able to play the game he loved and have some success along the way.
"I never gave a thought to the Hall of Fame as I was going through my career," he said. "My only goal as a ballplayer was very simple. All I wanted to do was try to get better for my next start, and to think it all ended up here is pretty cool."
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