ARLINGTON -- As Greg Maddux took his seat to talk about his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Arlington Thursday, the Texas Rangers staff of young pitchers were nearby watching and listening.
“I know I'm nervous, I know that much,” Maddux said. “I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be pretty special. It was pretty exciting. Leading up to it, there were a lot of ifs and buts.”
For the last two years, Maddux has been a special assistant to Rangers General Manger Jon Daniels. His job is to help the pitching staff at spring training and spend time during the season with the club's young pitchers.
“Some of these guys sitting here only saw him pitch at the end of his career,” Daniels said. “You go back and look, the hall of fame is the only thing that ties the generations together. Even the guys who are sitting here 18 and 19 years old, they can respect that at some level and what it takes to get to that level.”
“I'm pretty approachable and if they don’t know that, they’ll learn that,” Maddux said. “That’s the purpose of me being here, is to help them and share my experiences with them.”
Maddux has always had the credibility -- 355 wins and four Cy Young Awards will do that. And now that Nolan Ryan is no longer with the organization, Maddux provides hall-of-fame credentials that young pitchers are drawn to.
“He's one of the best of all time,” said Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch. “Anytime he's around and he's got something to tell you, you're going to listen to him. His experiences - anything that you can think of - he's got an answer for you or he's experienced it, so he can kind of talk you through it a little bit.”
No one knows Maddux better than his older brother, Mike, who has been the Rangers pitching coach since November 2008.
“Last year when they were listening to him, he was just another pitching coach,” said his brother, Mike. “More importantly, he's a good person and very, very baseball educated. He's got a lot to offer. When he talks, those guys listen. He's the E.F. Hutton of the organization, that's for sure.”
“You just don't see guys who hit the glove every single time and have that incredible movement,” said Rangers broadcaster Eric Nadel. “He kind of invented that comeback fastball that looks like it’s going to be inside to left handed batters, and then sneaks back over the inside corner. I don't remember anybody throwing that before him.”
“I learned from the players in front of me, and hopefully, I can help the players behind me as well,” Maddux said.
And that's a hall-of-fame attitude these young pitchers are eager to emulate.