"That's when I realized how dominant he was."
Greg Maddux proved to be dominant at a higher level than Little League. He ended up being one of the greatest pitchers in Major League history, winning 355 games and four Cy Young Awards.
That career officially came to an end on Monday when Maddux announced his retirement at a press conference during the Winter Meetings. Maddux, who lives in Las Vegas, was accompanied by his family during the announcement, and that included older brother Mike, who is now the Rangers' pitching coach.
"I used to tell people when I signed, 'Wait until you see my brother,'" said Mike, who is five years older than Greg. "'He's 15, but he's pretty good.' People thought I was nuts. They thought I was joking around. But 25 years later, that turned out to be a good scouting report."
Maddux said there was not really one thing that stood out about his brother.
"There are so many things," Maddux said. "The total package. But day in and day out, it was his will to win. That's what separated him from the pack: his will to win. You can't teach that. That's taught by your big brother beating up on you while growing up."
But his older brother did more than that. Mike and many other Las Vegas-area kids were mentored by a man named Ray Meder, a local baseball legend who ran camps and taught the game. When Mike started bringing his younger brother around to work with Meder, his pitching really took off.
There was also some head-to-head competition between the brothers, but Greg always tried to rig the game.
"If he couldn't win, he wouldn't play," Mike said. "If we played Nerf ball, I had to be on my knees to take away my height advantage. If we played home run derby, I had to be at home plate while he got to be at second base. When we got to the big leagues, I tried to do the same by having them move in the pitching mound for me, but they wouldn't do it."
The two faced each other twice as starters -- once in 1986 and again in 1988 while Greg was with the Cubs and Mike was with the Phillies. Greg won the first game, 8-3, on Sept. 29, 1986, but Mike came back later on July 31, 1988, and won, 6-3. Each singled off the other in that game, but Mike's single drove in a run.
"I'll never forget that," Mike said "And he won't get a chance to forget it either."
Mike might get a chance to talk with Greg about it in Spring Training. Mike hinted at the possibility of his younger brother dropping by Surprise, Ariz., next spring and maybe helping out, although only in perhaps a cameo role and not in uniform.
"Wouldn't that be neat?" Mike said. "That wouldn't shock me at all."