Elliott Maddox: Late Seventies New Jersey Born Mets Outfielder (1978-1980)

Elliott Maddox was born on December 21, 1947, in East Orange, New Jersey. The five-foot eleven right-handed hitter grew up in Union & attended Union High School. He was first drafted by the Hoston Astros in 1966 but chose not to sign.

He then went to the University of Michigan winning the Big Ten batting title in 1967 & was a first-round pick (20th overall) by the Detroit Tigers in 1968. 

While at Michigan he began to take up Judaic studies which would impact his life in later years. After batting .301 at AAA Rocky Mount in 1969 he was up with the Tigers in 1970.

MLB Career: Maddox spent one season in Detroit batting .248 with 3 HRs & 24 RBIs in 109 games. 

He was then traded to the Washington Senators along with Denny McLain and Don Wert for Ed Brinkman, Aurelio Rodriguez, & Joe Coleman. The Senators Manager, the great Ted Williams wanted Maddox as part of the deal, thinking he would one day win a batting title.  

Maddox played for the Senators in their last season in the nation’s Capital batting .217 with a HR 10 stolen bases & 18 RBIs in 128 games with 258 at bats.

In 1972 he moved to Texas with the franchise in the Rangers inaugural season batting .252 in 98 games as a reserve outfielder. There he did not got along with manager Billy Martin, who felt Maddox flaunted his intelligence toward him. In 1974 his contract was purchased by the A.L. New York club, where he would play for the next three seasons.

In 1974 while playing in Shea Stadium he batted .303 (sixth in the AL) with 26 doubles 45 RBIs and scored 75 runs. He was among the best in outfielders in the A.L. with 18 assists which was second in the league, posting a .986 fielding %. 

Maddox was an excellent defensive player, with a fine arm & received votes for the MVP award that season as well. Not only was he a top outfielder when he was healthy, but he could also play the infield well.

Lawsuit Against New York City: In 1975, while both New York baseball teams were sharing Shea Stadium, Maddox slipped in the wet outfield injuring his knee, limiting him to just 55 games. Eventually he sued the team as his employer, the Mets as lessees of Shea Stadium, and the City of New York as owners of the stadium.

In a famous decision entitled Maddox v. City of New York, the Court ruled that he knew the condition of the grass at the time and decided to play anyway. 

In the 1976 season he only played in just 18 games due to the knee injury. There he played under Billy Martin as his manager once again, that didn't work out. At the end of the year, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for veteran Paul Blair at the end of his career.

Mets Career: After one season and only 49 games, batting .262 he was granted free agency and signed with the New York Mets. 

1978: He began April seeing mostly pinch-hitting action, debuting as a Met on April 25th grounding out against the Pirates Don Robinson. On April 28th he drew three walks in a game & drove in a run the next day in a loss to the Reds.

He began to get more playing time on the poor team & would play in 119 games on the season.

On May 10th he had two hits & drove in three runs in Montreal during a 7-2 win over the Expos. On June 28th, he hit the first of just two HRs on the season, it came in a 9-8 loss at Wrigley Field. In July Maddox drove in five runs in a seven-game span, where he had a pair of multi-hit games.

Starting on August 2nd, he would drive in runs in eight games over a twelve-game span. On August 9th he collected four hits, with two RBI singles in a 10-3 Mets win in Montreal. He had another four-hit game against the Dodgers at Shea Stadium, in a 5-4 Mets loss. Maddox drove in runs in three straight games that week.

On September 17th he helped Mike Bruhert pitch a four hit 2-0 shutout against the Phillies in Philadelphia, when he singled home Lee Mazzilli in the 1st inning. 

On September 10th, he singled off the Pirates Kent Tekulve in the bottom of the 8th inning. The hit scored Lenny Randle breaking a wild 9-9 tie leading to a 11-9 Mets win.

Maddox led the last place 1978 Mets team with 71 walks posting a .370 on base %, while batting .257 with two HRs 18 doubles & 39 RBIs. He had three seven game hitting streaks throughout the year, showing little power. He began to play more third base appearing in 43 games at that position posting a .949 fielding %. 
Hamstring injuries took their toll as he missed time in each of the next two seasons & he was never the same player as he was in his early days.

1979: Elliott began the season with two hits & an RBI double in the Mets big 10-6 win over the Cubs on Opening Day at Wrigley Field. After just five games he was injured & missed almost a month of action. He returned in June but played mostly in pinch hitting roles going 1-8 in that role that month.

On July 11th he helped the Mets tie up a game with a base hit off the Dodgers Jerry Ruess, scoring Alex Trevino. The Mets won the game with a John Stearns walk off hit in the 10th inning. On July 13th he drove in runs in both ends of a double header sweep over the Giants, putting the Mets ahead with a 4th inning RBI single in the 4th inning of the night cap's 5-2 win.

At the end of July, he went on the DL again, missing a month of action.

On September 24th he hit his only HR of the year, it came once again at Wrigley Field as he helped Craig Swan beat Dennis Lamp 3-1. In the outfield he played 65 games with a .985 fielding % & five assists.

Maddox was limited to only 86 games, batting .268 with a HR 13 doubles 21 runs scored & 12 RBIs with a .335 on base %. The Mets finished last under manager Joe Torree going 63-99.

1980: This was Maddox's last season at Shea Stadium, he was healthier getting into 130 games. By now he was converted over to being a full time third baseman. In 115 games at third he posted a .956 fielding % (5th best among NL third baseman) making 14 errors in 319 chances.

Walk Off Hit: On May 24th he had one of his biggest thrills as a Met. Maddox came to bat in the bottom of the 10th inning with the score tied 4-4 with the Atlanta Braves. Lee Mazzilli had led off the inning with a base hit & was moved over by John Stearns. With two outs Maddox singled off Rick Camp with the walk off hit scoring Mazzilli for the win.

Later in the month he drove in three runs in St. Louis helping the Mets to a 6-5 win over the Cards in St. Louis. In May he got his average up to .290 & helped the club by driving in runs in five different one run victories. 

On June 10th he tied up a game with the Dodgers with a 4th inning sac fly off Bob Welch. The Mets put up four runs in the inning & won the game 5-4. Two games later on June 12th, with the Mets down to the Dodgers 5-4 in the 6th inning, Maddox delivered a bunt base hit that led to two Mets run being scored, with the help of pitcher Bobby Castillo's error, to put them ahead & hold on to the 6-5 win.

On July 17th he had another three RBI Day, this time against the Braves at Shea Stadium in a 6-0 John Pacella Mets shut out. On August 8th, he drove in the games winning run in the top of the 9th inning with an RBI single off the Cardinals John Littlefield in a 3-2 Mets win in St. Louis. 

On September 20th he helped the Mets to another win, breaking an 11th inning tie with a two-run single off the Pirates Kent Tekulve. Steve Henderson added an RBI hit as the Mets went on to a 9-6 win in Pittsburgh.

Maddox batted .248 with 4 HRs 16 doubles one triple & 34 RBIs. He walked 52 times for a .336 in base % while leading led the league in hit by pitches with six.

The injuries got the better of him & he was released in February 1981. He played a season with the Phillies in their minor leagues, but Maddox retired after the 1981 season, ending an eleven-year career, at age 33. 

Career Stats: Overall, he hit .261 with 742 hits 18 HRs 121 doubles 16 triples 409 walks 60 stolen bases 234 RBIs & a .358 on base %.

Retirement: After his playing days he became an investment banker & worked as a social worker.

He returned to the big leagues as a coach in 1990 and 1991 under Buck Showalter in New York with the AL team. 

Judaism: In 1975 he converted to Judaism & had taken up Judaic studies while at college.  He was inducted to the Jewish Sports Hall of fame. In 1989, Maddox visited Poland, where he initiated Little League baseball programs in four cities. 

Maddox also coaches baseball & football in Israel, where he lives part time as well as in Coral Springs, Florida. He has been elected to the Union County Hall of fame in New Jersey as well.


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