On August 12 2011, The Atlanta Braves organization enshrined one of the greats of major league baseball. The retirement of the number 6made famous by Robert Joseph “Bobby” Cox in his time as the skipper of the Braves is remembered differently by many people. For me, it’s no matter who was actually on the screen, you could hear him cheering on who was at bat, with “Come on Chip”, or the like. Even the sight of Cox and Leo Mazzone bobbing back and forth in the dugout for the years they were together. We all have specific, but special memories of the man the Braves and all of baseball should recognize as one of the greatest of all time.
Born on 21 May 1941 in Oklahoma, Cox was drafted and signed by the L.A. Dodgers in 1959 as a third baseman, but struggled to make it out of the minors and never saw the bright lights of the majors in Dodger-town. He was traded to the Cubs, Braves (while in Atlanta), and finally played in the majors with the New York Yankees from 1968-69, playing mostly third base, and playing with Mickey Mantle in his later years. Due to bad knees, his playing career ended abruptly, but this is only where the legend begins.
Cox started his managerial career in the Yankees farm system in 1971. In the five years he was a manager for A and AA, he had a record of 459-387 with two league championships, making him a commodity in the majors for various positions. In 1977, he was called up to the majors to be the first base coach for Billy Martin and the New York Yankees. In 1977, the Yankees won the World Series, and the legend of Bobby Cox is being born.
In 1978, the Atlanta Braves hired Cox to be the teams’ manager. The Braves were a dwindling franchise. The years of Hammerin’ Hank were .past them, and the Braves struggled to amount better records than the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays, two expansion franchises. In his first two years, they finished in last place, in 1980 Cox made one of his maverick moves: turing Dale Murphy from catcher to center fielder. In revamping Murphy’s career, the Braves finished in 4th place and a record over .500 for the first time aonce 1972. However, due to the the baseball strike of 1980 and the Bravss being in last place, then owner Ted Turner fired Cox in 1981. The next year, in 1982, Cox became the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, another dwindling, last place franchise in need of a strong voiced leader. Cox turned a worst to first team during his tenure between 1982-1986, but was undone by the installation of the best of seven LCS format and was defeated in the ALCS in 1985. And the legend is being born.
In 1986 the Atlanta Braves brought Cox back, this time as the team general manager. From 1986-1990, Cox helped the team acquire major talent, the likea if which helped make the Braves the team of the 1990s. Talent like Tom Glavine, David Justice, Ron Gant, Steve Avery, Pete Smith, et. al., and can be credited in drafting Chipper Jones with the number one overall pick in the 1990 amature draft. After going through two managers in less than five years, Cox appointed himself as the manager of the team. From 1991-2010, he made headlines. In 1991, he led the Braves to a worst-to-first record and a World Series appearance against the worst-to-first Minnesota Twins, but lost to them in seven games. From 1993-2005 (not counting the strike shortened 1994 season) the Braves had a consecutive streak of first place division finishes, one of the longest streaks in professional sports. From 2006-2009, the Braves bounced from 2nd and 3rd place finishes, but continued a streak of .500 records to add to Cox’s winning lore. Cox’s last game as a manager was 11 October 2010, and the Braves clinched their first wild card berth, and the first for Cox. Even though they were eliminated in the divisional series versus the eventual World Series Champions San Francisco Giants, Cox was celebrated in grand style: standing ovation by an away game crowd, botb teams and manager Bruce Bochy saluted him, and one final curtain call, solidified a career of a man who is one of the best to lead a team into a dugout. There isn’t much more to say about a man whose career in baseball spans five decades, but here are some statistics that speak volumes. We salute you, Bobby Cox, and as a Braves Fan, I can say it is well deserved.
Bobby Cox Managerial Stats:
Atlanta Braves: 1978-1981, 1990-2010
Toronto Blue Jays: 1982-1986
Atlanta Braves General Manager: 1986-1990
Manager of the Year (A.L., 1985; N.L., 1991, 2004, 2005).Sporting News Manager of the Year (1985 1991 1993 1999 2003 2004 2005)
Record: 4TH Winningest Manager of All TimeWinningest Manager in Braves Franchise History
29 years as a manager, 4508 games managed. (3860 as Braves Manager)
Total: 2504 wins (2149 WITH BRAVES) 2001 losses (1709 WITH BRAVES)
Braves won 1995 World Series,
NL Pennants in ’91, ’92, ’95, ’96, ’99.
Infamously, Bobby Cox has been thrown out of 158 games as a manager, most all-time.
On 8 June 2009, Cox won 2000TH game with Braves.
On 25 September 2010 Cox won 2500TH game as manager.
Cox will be eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
All statistics and information for this article are from baseball-reference.com, atlantabraves.com