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Garry Maddox

By Bill Meltzer

April 11 , 2005

“Two-thirds of the earth is covered by water. The rest is covered by Garry Maddox.”

So said Ralph Kiner, about the Phillies eight-time Gold Glove winning centerfielder.

When fans recall Garry Maddox, they think speed. With his long, graceful strides, the aptly nicknamed “Secretary of Defense” turned surefire extra-base hits in the gap into simple putouts. Maddox was also an accomplished base stealer, swiping 20 or more bases in nine straight seasons.

Maddox had considerable smarts to go along with his athleticism. In the field, Maddox always knew how to play the hitters. At bat, he used all fields. As a base stealer, Maddox knew when to pick his spots.

Perhaps remembered best for his defense, Maddox hit a solid .285 lifetime, with 1802 hits, 337 doubles, 62 triples and 117 home runs.

He’s also remembered for two very different postseason plays. Maddox, who’d recorded what proved to be the pennant-winning base hit in the top of the 10th inning of game five, grabbed Astro Enos Cabell’s soft line drive for the final out of the 1980 National League Championship Series, and was carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders.

That was in stark contrast to the heartbreaking end to the 1978 NLCS. In the bottom of the 10 th inning of game four, with Tug McGraw on the mound, Maddox lost a fly ball hit by Dusty Baker in the late afternoon Los Angeles sun, dropped it for a monumental error, and Bill Russell followed with a single to win the pennant for the Dodgers.

Maddox’s strength of character got him through the tough times on and off the field. A bright man of quiet conviction, he has always stood up for what he believed in. While in the Giants farm system, Maddox sacrificed a year of his career to serve in Vietnam.

As a matter of course, he’s been involved in one civic activity or another. Maddox’s fundraising was instrumental in the success of the Child Guidance Clinic of Philadelphia, and in 2000, Maddox founded the Youth Golf and Academics Program, which gives inner-city children the opportunity to learn the game, with a primary focus on academics.

"The [idea] was to use golf as a carrot to get kids to build on their academics," said Maddox. "All of the kids hear about Tiger Woods. He's someone they can identify with. They’re lured in by that.”

Maddox practiced what he preached. After his playing career, he returned to college to work on his bachelor’s degree in history, attending classes at Philadelphia’s Temple University, and later received an honorary doctorate from Neumann College.

Unlike many players, Maddox began looking for opportunities beyond baseball long before retiring. “He was very intelligent and made a lot of contacts,” said Larry Bowa. “He had game plan for life after baseball.”

He moved quickly after retiring from the game in 1986, founding World Wide Concessions, and by 1995, Maddox was majority owner and CEO of A. Pomerantz & Company, a Philadelphia based office furniture company.

In 2003, Maddox began a four-year term on the board of Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. “I was blown away just to be asked,” said Maddox. “It was somewhat intimidating at first. But to me, it’s an honor and quite a learning experience.”

Maddox has kept his ties to the Philies. He held a corporate marketing position with the team for some time after retirement, and worked as a color commentator for the now-defunct PRISM cable network. In recent years, Maddox has served as an outfield instructor for the Phils during spring training in Clearwater, Florida.

Maddox, the father of four children, watched son Garry Jr. follow him into professional baseball. While the younger Maddox was unable to make it to the big leagues, he had a respectable minor league career.

“I’ve been blessed with a great family, great teammates, associates and friends,” said Maddox. “I’m a lucky man.”




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Copyright © 2005 by BaseballSavvy.com.