Yankees fans of a certain age may remember just how close Greg Maddux was to donning the pinstripes.
According to the Hall of Fame pitcher, if not for some unforeseen circumstances during his free-agent visit to New York, that probably would have become a reality.
Maddux joined the “Toeing the Slab” podcast, co-hosted by David Cone, and recalled the shocking turn of events that led him to sign with the Atlanta Braves over the Yankees.
“I was there. I was [in New York] to sign with the Yankees,” Maddux said. “I was shocked I didn’t get offered a contract. It’s not college, I didn’t go for a recruiting trip. You kinda go there to sign a contract and everything. We had a nice day, went around, went to a show. Went to dinner. They said they’d be in touch with a contract offer.
“I’ve heard bits and pieces over the years, I don’t know who it was, but one of the higher ups had a heart attack — and that’s why I wasn’t made an offer. Gene Michael was the GM at the time, [George] Steinbrenner was out of baseball…whoever was calling the shots then, sorry I don’t remember who it was, apparently had a heart attack and that’s why I didn’t have a contract offer.”
Maddux said he was on his way back home when he landed in Chicago for a layover and got on the phone (there were no cellphones back then) to speak to his agent, Scott Boras.
“He said ‘the Braves were able to make you an offer,’ which was originally the team I wanted to go to earlier...but they weren’t able to trade a player and make room for me, so then I was off to New York to go play there,” he said. “For some reason, they came in with an offer. I told Scott do your Boras stuff and I wanna play in Atlanta. Hop on a plane and three hours later landed back in Vegas and had an offer from the Braves. I never officially received an offer from the Yankees.”
It is curious to wonder how the course of baseball history may be different had Maddux indeed signed with the Yankees.
While the Bronx Bombers did just fine without him, winning four World Series between 1996-2000 and beating Maddux’s Braves twice, a lot of things may have been different.
Would the Yankees have traded for David Cone if they had Maddux? Do they beat the Seattle Mariners in the 1995 ALDS? Would that save Buck Showalter’s job? Does Joe Torre ever manage the Yankees or get a shot at managing again?
And what about the Braves? Do they still win the 1995 World Series without Maddux? Do they go out and get another pitcher?
It’s funny how things work out but it’s just one of those great “what ifs” that fans can ask themselves how things would have gone in an alternate universe.