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Complete game: Greg Maddux announces retirement

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[December 09, 2008]  LAS VEGAS (AP) -- 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.

CivicHe 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 -- just 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 parents and family -- including brother Mike Maddux, the Texas Rangers pitching coach and a former big leaguer himself -- sat in the front row.


"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."

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

Maddux leaves with four consecutive NL Cy Young Awards (1992-95) and a 3.16 ERA, especially impressive in the steroid era. He 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."

An eight-time All-Star, Maddux won 13 or more games in 20 straight 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. The right-hander helped the Braves win the 1995 World Series and went 8-13 with a 4.22 ERA during his final season.

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He made three relief appearances in the playoffs for the NL West champion Dodgers -- he had an 0.00 ERA over four innings -- then 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 everything that came with major league life: poker games on the plane, golf on road trips, hanging out with his teammates.

He didn't rule out a coaching position in the future, but for now he's ready to move on.

"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."

[Associated Press; By MIKE FITZPATRICK]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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