Bobby Cox is a baseball icon. After a brief playing career in the Major Leagues, Cox has managed teams for nearly 40 years. But the 69-year-old Atlanta Braves manager is planning to step down at the end of this season. Fans say his departure will leave a void in the sport as well as in the Braves' dugout. Colin Reynolds has more.
Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox has spent his entire adult working life at a baseball diamond. Now, a career that started in 1968 as the third baseman for the New York Yankees will conclude following the 2010 season.
Cox played two seasons with the Yankees and was named to the 1968 Topps All-Star Rookie Team. When bad knees ended his playing career at age 30, Cox used his baseball knowledge and expertise to become one of the greatest managers in the history of the sport.
He began his coaching career with the Yankees in 1971 and won a World Series as the team's first-base coach in 1977. The next year he became the manager of the National League's Atlanta Braves. After three seasons with the team, Cox took over the Toronto Blue Jays and won the American League's Manager of the Year Award in 1985.
He rejoined the Braves in 1990 and is the longest current tenured manager in Major League Baseball. With Cox at the helm, the Braves won 14 straight division crowns - a record in North American professional sports that ended in 2005. They won the World Series title in 1995. But with his team once again atop the division standings this year, the fiery manager says he will call it quits, regardless of the team's outcome this season. "I made that decision during the winter. Doesn't matter what happens. Win the World Series or whatever. We (I) just made a decision and we're (I'm) sticking with it," he said.
While the Braves are currently in first place in the National League's East Division, they have not made the playoffs since 2005.
Before this season, Cox had won four Manager of the Year awards, 15 division titles, six National League pennants and two World Series titles. He ranks fourth on the all-time managerial wins list and holds the all-time Major League Baseball record for getting ejected from games with 156.
Aside from the records and accolades, Cox's legacy is also dependent on the great players that he's managed and their fierce loyalty to the skipper. In his 30 years as a manager, Cox says that one piece of advice has been consistent throughout. "Don't try to overachieve. Just, you know, play your game. Do what you can do. Don't try to do things you can't do. And be consistent with what you do do. So it may sound silly, but it makes sense to me," he said.
At the end of this year, Bobby Cox will step down from the top but won't completely leave the game behind. He plans to take a limited role with the Braves organization, helping build young players and coaches alike. It appears he'll never be too far removed from a baseball diamond. "I'm not gonna be in anybody's hair or anything like that. Just gonna take it easy. Go around (and) visit the farm teams, say hello to the players, the coaches, managers. See if I can boost them up a little bit," he said.
As far as replacing the legend, that responsibility falls on Braves General Manager Frank Wren. Cox says he will have little to do with the process. "If they ask me, I'll give them my opinion maybe, but I'm not the one that has to work with him," he said.
Whoever the Braves hire to lead their team next season will have the daunting task of following an icon. But Bobby Cox's legacy is not finished just yet.