Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox toured the Baseball Hall of Fame together on Monday morning, as part of their orientation for the induction ceremony for the Class of 2014, and really they were helping each other get oriented to the idea that they’ll soon be joining them.
At one point during their two-hour tour, when they were taken behind the scenes to the Hall of Fame’s three-dimensional collections vault to handle some of the most prized artifacts, Maddux reached out and touched the left sleeve of Pete “Grover Cleveland” Alexander 1926 World Series jersey, wondering aloud what the stains were.
It was Cox, not the Hall of Fame vice president, who jumped in quickly with an answer.
“He was a right hander, right?” said Cox of Alexander, who was only one of seven pitchers in the history of the game to win more games than Maddux. “He did this.”
Cox then demonstrated how Alexander would have wiped his pitching hand on his left shoulder.
Together Cox and Maddux got to see displays and artifacts celebrating over 150 years of the baseball’s history, including the one that mattered most to the two of them – the 1995 World Series. Maddux pulled out his Iphone to snap a picture of the Braves display, saying he wanted to get one from “when Smoltzie had hair.”
They looked at photos of John Smoltz, Cox and others. They saw Glavine’s spikes from Game 6, the 1-0 victory, and later got to handle the bat David Justice used to hit the game-winning solo home run. Maddux talked about playing golf recently with Justice, telling Cox just how far he could hit the ball. And of the baseball Justice hit in 1995?
“Nice of him to get that hit, wasn’t it?” the always understated Maddux.
Cox had been to his good friend and mentor Pat Gillick’s induction ceremony in 2011 and visited the museum again later that summer. Maddux had been a few years ago with his son Chase for a week visit and an exhibition baseball game, but this time felt much different.
Their tour finished in the rotunda of the Hall of Fame Gallery where they could see plaque-shaped markers holding spots on the wall for six more, to be added July 27th.
Cox will go top left, and Maddux middle of the bottom row. They will go in alphabetical order, fellow Brave Tom Glavine, fittingly to the left-hand side of Maddux, on the bottom row. Manager Tony La Russa and Frank Thomas along the top row next to Cox, then Joe Torre on the bottom row beside Maddux.
Their six plaques will be only two alcoves over from the display of the original Hall of Fame class of 1939: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner.
“It’s starting to hit home right now for me for the first time,” said Cox, sitting for a post-tour interview in front of the display. “How much this means to a person that spent their entire lives in the game of baseball to realize that this is the top of the hill.”
Sitting to his right was Maddux, who was feeling the same emotions.
“Being around spring training for the last month, you hear Hall of Famer this and that and it starts to sink in a little bit,” said Maddux, who is a special assistant and pitching advisor for the Texas Rangers. “But today was…today it’s hitting pretty hard.”