Greg Maddux may be retired. But he's still wreaking havoc on his old sport -- and one of his old teams.
Maddux sprung a hilarious practical joke on the Braves recently. And it was recounted to me by Derek Lowe, whose arrival to help rescue the Braves' rotation is chronicled in my most recent column on this site.
Lowe said that shortly before he signed with the Braves, he called his pal Maddux and told him, kiddingly: "I want to wear No. 31" -- which, of course, was Maddux's old number. For the record, while the Braves haven't retired No. 31, they also haven't given it to anyone else since Maddux exited.
I can safely say that if Derek Lowe fired that quip out there to most players, they would have laughed and then gone about the rest of their lives. But not Greg Maddux.
"Jokester that he is," Lowe chuckled, "he actually called the Braves and told them he would let me wear No. 31."
Maddux even sounded so earnest when he made that call, the Braves totally bought his act. So GM Frank Wren decided he had to intervene.
"I was getting ready to sign with the Braves when Frank texted me," Lowe said, "and he said, 'We have a problem here. We're not really going to give out No. 31.' Was there any other number I'd like to choose?"
So Lowe said he'd take No. 32 if he had to. And you'd have thought that would have been the end of this. But it wasn't.
The Braves were still so unsure who was kidding and who wasn't that when Wren arrived at Lowe's news conference, he got a call from media relations director Brad Hainje. And the question of the day was: "Which uniform are we using -- 31 or 32?" The GM was pretty sure he had the answer, but not quite sure enough.
"So I actually went to Derek at the press conference and said, 'Derek, what's this about 31? Are you really going to wear 31?' " Wren said. "And he looked at me like: 'What the heck are you talking about?' "
So obviously, Lowe is running around this spring, wearing No. 32. But he also has his very own Braves jersey with No. 31 on the back, as the ultimate souvenir. And somewhere (between pitching wedges, no doubt), Greg Maddux is still laughing.