I love fall, the changing colors and if we’re lucky cooler temps, especially at night. Friday nights in Texas are supposed to be just slightly cool, just enough for youngsters to don letter jackets or snuggle into a light jacket by their dates at football games.
But fall, especially October, to me means the Fall Classic. I love “my boys” and no I don’t mean the Dallas Cowboys. My game is baseball. September to me means that final stretch before the division playoffs.
As my friends will tell you, I’m a die hard Atlanta Braves fan from way back. I was there every step of the way, glued to TBS at every available opportunity in the 90s, during their big heyday. Just like the song says, I’ve remained a true fan “even through the rotten years,” or rebuilding years as off years are often referred to.
I’ve learned not to live and die by my team. At one time, my routine and life revolved around the Braves television schedule and baseball post season. Back in the early 90s many a schoolmate could attest that a bad seasons or post season ruined my entire year. You think I’m joking, but I’m not. You think teenage girls are moody on a good day? I was even more difficult when “my boys” didn’t pull it out and step up. It wasn’t so bad if they truly gave it their all and fought the good fight. But losing the division or World Series due to dumb mistakes and overconfidence, that made me a very difficult teen for the next year indeed.
To this day, I still watch Atlanta every available opportunity. Life as a single, working mom and TBS’ failure to carry the games like they once did makes those opportunities considerably fewer and far between. I don’t have a hissy if I do have to miss televised games. I do try to keep up with my boys — God love the Internet! And the post season I make a concerted effort, regardless who is in contention for the pennant, to watch.
The players have changed, with a lot of fresh faces. I don’t know some of these guys as well as the guys who formerly played their spot. At one time, I literally could tell you what a player was going to do before he ever made it to the plate with his bat. (Many a fellow lost a bet when challenging my predictions for each at bat.)
But one thing that has remained steadfast through the years is Braves Manager Bobby Cox. He’s always there to back his guys, from the first game to game 7 of the World Series. A rule of thumb over the years has been that it’s not a true Braves season until Bobby gets thrown out of the game for going to bat with umps for his players.
While he’s the first to thrown down — sometimes literally — defending his guys, you’ll rarely hear him brag about his many accomplishments.
Cox had done his time on the field and knows what it’s like to be a player too. He played five years in Dodgers' farm system before being the Chicago Cubs picked him up in the November 1964 Minor League Draft. He was acquired by the Braves in 1966. After playing for Triple-A Richmond in 1967, he was traded to the New York Yankees and beat out Mike Ferraro for the third base job in 1968. Cox made the Topps Rookie All-Star team in 1968, but lost his job to roommate Bobby Murcer in '69.
Bad knees forced Cox to retire as a player at the age of 30. He was appointed manager of the Yankees' Class-A Fort Lauderdale club in 1971. He won the Eastern League pennant and championship with West Haven in 1972, and placed second twice and third twice in four years at Syracuse, winning the International League's Governor's Cup in 1976. He served as the Yankees' first base coach in 1977.
In 16 of his 25 years as Braves manager, Bobby has helped lead his team into the playoffs. He has five pennants, in June became the fourth manager in MLB history to claim 2,000 wins with one team, fourth most wins in Major League Baseball history and is among the top 20 for total games managed. Cox’s overall career record is2,413-1,930-3 (.557); including include 2,058 victories with the Braves and 355 with the Toronto Blue Jays. The 1,752 Braves wins in the 19-season span since 1991 is more than any other team in baseball; the New York Yankees rank second with 1,749. Cox has won 15 division crowns, including 14 in Atlanta that have led to five pennants (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999) and one World Championship (1995).
Cox was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in May 2006. In 2005, he was voted the National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America for the second consecutive season and was named Manager of the Year by Sporting News, Baseball America and Sports Weekly; The Sporting News named Cox NL's top skipper, marking the seventh time he received the honor with the Braves and the eighth time overall. No other manager has won the Sporting News award more than three times since the magazine started the balloting in 1936.
That’s why the Braves making it to the division series this year is so special. No doubt, I’d love to see my guys step up and capture the division and league championships, then go on to win the World Series — for Bobby Cox in his last year at the helm.
That’s right, Cox who holds the record for most post seasons as a manager, is turning in his jersey and cap after 29 years as a major league manager to try retired life. I can’t imagine what he’ll do with his hours, but at age 69, I’d say he’s certainly earned a rest. He has the fourth most wins in Major League Baseball history.
While I’m excited that he will get to go out as no other manager (even Hall of Famers) have, in the post season, regardless if this week or the first week in November, it’ll be a bittersweet end. We’re losing the heart of the team, our manager. This guys’ been at the helm almost as long as I’ve been alive. To me, Bobby Cox will always be an unsung hero. It makes me sad to think he won’t be back next year managing my boys. In fact, I just really can’t fathom the Atlanta Braves without Bobby Cox. I’m glad he gets one more post season.
Of course, those wily business guys couldn’t let him escape the game altogether. They got him to sign a five-year agreement spanning through 2015 to advise and consult in a all areas of baseball operations, including the major league club, spring training, minor league operations and scouting. He’ll also be working int he president’s office on “special business projects.”
So expect to see me decked out as often as possible this post season in rally red and blue right down to my finger and toe nails, supporting my team and as a tribute to Bobby. I love that guy!
Fore more information about Cox and his many baseball accomplishments, go online to the Brave website, www.atlanta.braves.mlb.com, click his name under the coaches’ link on the roster menu.
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