Bobby Cox: The Skillful Braves Manager

Austin B.

Manging Editor

Bobby Cox has always been acknowledged as one of the most impressive managers in all of Major League Baseball (MLB). He held his own against everyone from the newest rookies to the best of the best. Whether he was on the baseball diamond arguing a call for his team or trying to hit one out as a player, Bobby Cox always kept his game a level ahead of everyone else’s. For his successful career, Cox is finally being rewarded.

Robert Joseph Cox, aka Bobby Cox, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 21st, 1941. At the start of his baseball career, Cox signed as a player. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ minor league team signed him at first, but before making it to the big league, he was signed by the Atlanta Braves minor league team; he also failed to make it to the big leagues. After his time with the Minor League Braves, he was signed with the New York Yankees’ minor league team. Cox was limited to two seasons, playing primarily as a third baseman, because of bad knees, but the end of his playing career was just the launch of his legacy, as it signaled the beginning of his managing career.

Cox began his managing career in a Venezuelan league from 1974 through 1976. After these seasons out of the country, he returned to the United States to manage the Yankees’ minor league team, the Syracuse Chiefs. As a minor league manager, Cox managed six seasons and won two league championships. In his first MLB season on a team’s staff, he was the first base coach for the New York Yankees, a position with which he won a World Series. After that season, he began his career as a manger in the MLB.

In the off-season between the 1977 and 1978 season, Cox took control of the Atlanta Braves, formerly managed by Dave Bristol. Bristol had led the Braves to be the worst team in all of Major League Baseball for two straight seasons, so Cox had a very difficult job in trying to bring the losing team back to the top. The team struggled for the first two years under Cox’s management, finishing last in the league again for the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Cox knew that he had to do something to mix up the team who, by that time in history, was almost lifeless. Cox made the unheard of decision to move the power-hitting first baseman, Dale Murphy, to center field. That move was one of Cox’s great achievements, as it earned Dale Murphy a National League MVP award and five Golden Glove awards. That also earned Cox respect from all around the league for making such a surprising change. Junior Johnathon Kelley says, “I think changing Dale Murphy to the outfield was Bobby Cox’s best idea; that’s what earned him his name and his reputation in the league.” That season, the Braves ended with a winning record for the first time since 1974. However, Cox had to be fired in 1981 due to the baseball strike that was transpiring at the time. Cox then had to find a new team to manage.

Bobby Cox joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 1982. Under Cox’s four season management of the team, the Blue Jays recovered from constant losing seasons. In 1985, Cox led the team to be the winner of the American League East Division. He carried the team to the American League Championship, but the team did not win. After that season, Cox returned to the Atlanta Braves.

Upon his return to Atlanta, Cox spent many seasons accumulating all-star players, such as Chipper Jones. In 1992, Cox’s team set a record as the first team in history to go from last place to first place in one year. This first place position would earn the Braves a place in the World Series, which they ended up losing to the Twins. Cox led the Braves to win the National League Pennant in 1992 but would lose the World Series to the Blue Jays. They also made it to the National League Championship in 1993 but lost to the Phillies. In 1995, Bobby Cox’s Braves won the World Series over the Cleveland Indians. He led the team to the World Series again in 1999 but lost to the New York Yankees.

Bobby Cox racked up accomplishments throughout his career. He received the Manager of the Year Award four times; he is the only manager in history to have received that award two years in a row (in 2004 and 2005). He is also the only manager in history to be ejected from two World Series games. Because of his dedication to his players, Cox is the most ejected manager in MLB history. Junior Leon Castillo states, “I love that he gets ejected so much because it shows that he has faith in his players; he trusts them.” On December 9, 2013, Bobby Cox was unanimously inducted into the Major League Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held on July 27, 2014.

Bobby Cox retired after his last game on October 11, 2010 as a legend in Major League Baseball; he left a mark on the league that will not be forgotten. Cox will always be remembered as the manager who would argue with any umpire if he felt his player had been robbed of a play and as the manager who really knew who he was doing. Bobby Cox will always be remembered as a very intelligent and skillful manager.

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