I've been a Braves fan all my life. I was a fan in the late 70s when the team couldn't buy a win. I was a fan in the 80s when they started to make improvements. I was a fan in the 90s when they were almost unbeatable. And I'm still a fan today after their elimination in the NLDS by the Giants. I've also been a fan of Bobby Cox during his time with the Braves, most of the time that is.
Bobby Cox "retired" Monday night after the Braves loss to the Giants ranked 4th on the All-Time Wins List. He has had an amazing career with the Braves and an amazing career in baseball. Cox took a team that was mired in the baseball basement and turned them into a powerhouse. Why do I put the word retired in quotes? Because until I see spring training come around next year and Cox is not on the field, I will not believe he is really, truly committed to leaving baseball.
Bobby Cox started his career being signed by the Dodgers, but he never played in a major league game for them. He was acquired by the Braves, but never played for them either. He was traded to the Yankees in 1967 and played 2 seasons a platooning 3rd baseman with bad knees. In 1971, he started managing in the Yankees farm system with great success. In 1977, he was the first base coach for the Yankees under Billy Martin.
The year 1978 started Cox's career as manager of the Braves. He took over a team that had finished last in the entire league in the last two seasons. In 1978 and 1979, the team still finished last. However, in 1980, Cox moved Dale Murphy to centerfield and that was the start of the changes for the Braves. In 1980, the Braves finished 4th and above .500 for the first time since 1972. In 1981, the baseball strike lead to Cox's undoing and Ted Turner fired him.
From 1982 to 1985, Cox managed the upstart Toronto Blue Jays. By 1985, the Jays had won 1st place in the AL and became the first team to play in a now expanded best of 7 league championship series that they ultimately lost to the Royals.
In 1986, Turner hired Cox back as general manager this time and in 1990, Cox took over as manager of the Braves again. This time, the team blossomed into an almost unbeatable force of nature. Winning division series after division series. Winning championship series. And winning the World Series in 1995. The 2000s have not been as kind to the Braves, but they have remained one of the top teams in all of the majors.
In 2009, Cox signed a 1 year contract extension and announced his decision that he would retire at the end of the 2010 season. I had hoped he would go out with another trip to the World Series, but it was not to be. After the loss to the Giants on Monday night, the sold out crowd stood and cheered for him, the Braves stood and cheered for him, and the Giants stopped their on game celebration and stood and cheered for him. It was a great moment. One of many Cox has been part of with the Braves. If he truly retires, the game will not be the same without him. Thanks for the memories.