Cox and Braves coach Pat Corrales have had a rivalry dating back to childhood. Growing up in California's San Joaquin Valley but attending different high schools, Corrales' team routinely pummeled Cox's team whenever the two sides met in the late 1950s. Friends by the time both reached professional baseball, Corrales went on to serve eight years in the major leagues as a backup catcher, while Cox's career consisted of two seasons as a major league third baseman. It wasn't until Cox started managing that he distinguished himself in baseball, eclipsing the managerial achievements not only of Corrales but of most of their contemporaries.
Signed in 1959 for a $40,000 bonus, Cox spent seven mostly productive years in the Dodgers' farm system before being traded to the Braves late in 1966. After playing the 1967 season in Richmond, he was traded to the Yankees for Bob Tillman and Dale Roberts and won their starting third base job in 1968. He was named to the Topps Rookie All-Star team that year (despite hitting .229 with only seven HR) but lost his job to Bobby Murcer the following spring. Due to bad knees, Cox's playing career was over within two seasons at the age of 30, and he became a minor-league manager for the Yankees.
In 1971, Cox spent his first year as manager of Ft. Lauderdale (Florida State League). His team ended up in fourth place, the lowest finish of any of his teams in the Yankees' system. But the next year, his West Haven (Eastern League) squad claimed first place in the Eastern League with an 84-56 (.600) record and won the 1972 league championship. Following that were two second-place and two third-place finishes with Syracuse (International League); his 1976 club won the league championship as well. Cox returned to the majors in 1977 as a first base coach for the Yankees, who went on to win the World Series.
Cox's first major league managerial job came with the Braves in 1978. In contrast to his days in the minor leagues, where none of his six teams finished below .500, Cox's best year came in 1980, when the Braves finished 81-80. In four years under Cox, Atlanta went 266-323.
He saw more success after taking over the reins of the Toronto Blue Jays from Bobby Mattick in 1982. The young franchise never regressed in his four years there; under Cox's direction, Toronto won 78 games in 1982, 89 games in both 1983 and 1984, and 99 games in 1985. The Blue Jays won their first AL East championship that year, but Cox 's strict platooning style allowed Royals manager Dick Howser to outmaneuver him in the LCS. Nevertheless, Cox was subsequently named Manager of the Year.
Once again turning his full attention to managing, Cox led the 1991 Braves to a dramatic worst-to-first turnaround, the first of its kind in the National League. After a compelling World Series in which his team lost to Tom Kelly's similarly resurgent Minnesota Twins, Cox received a multitude of post-season awards, including the AP Manager of the Year (the first manager to be so named in both leagues).
The postseason appearances became the norm in the 1990s as Cox continued his unprecedented stretch of success. After 1991, the Braves won division titles in each season in the 1990s with the exception of the strike-shortened 1994 campaign. Those division titles also translated into NL pennants, except for 1993, 1997, and 1998. (Ironically, Cox led the Braves to 100-plus wins all three years.)
In the process, Cox became the Braves' winningest manager in the modern era with 1,254 wins after the 2001 season. While some may argue his place as the most victorious postseason manager (55 wins) is somewhat cheapened by the extended playoff format, there is no question about the stature of his regular season record: 1704-1305 (.566), second to Tony LaRussa among active managers and twelfth on the all-time list. (MC/AT)
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»June 22, 1990: The last-place Braves fire manager Russ Nixon and replace him with GM Bobby Cox, who last managed Toronto in 1985.
»September 21, 1993: At Montreal, the Braves swamp the red hot Expos, by a score of 18–5 as the two teams combine to use a record 13 pinch hitters. The Expos, winners of 19 of their last 22 games, and fighting to catch the Phils, use four pinch batters, the Braves a record 9. In the 7th, Bobby Cox decides to rest his regular and sends a record six pinch hitters to the plate, including the first five batters, another record.
»June 17, 1994:
Atlanta defeats Cincinnati, 6-5, to give Braves' manager Bobby Cox his 1,000th career victory.
»May 7, 1995:
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox is arrested by police at his home, and jailed overnight, as he is charged with simple battery. He is accused of punching his wife and pulling her hair. The couple will appear together at a news conference to deny that he assaulted her. Mrs. Cox called police to request their help in breaking up an argument.
»September 1, 1995: Battery charges are dropped against Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, who was arrested back on May 7. Cox tells a judge that counseling has helped his marriage.
»June 27, 2000:
The Atlanta Braves back off from their decision to bar from their chartered flights four team announcers who had raised questions about the catcher's box at Turner Field. After TBS discussed the width of the catcher's box in a game against the Brewers three days ago, Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren, Joe Simpson and Don Sutton were kicked off a flight to Montreal and had to take a commercial flight. TBS aired a video showing the catcher's box was four to five inches smaller than it was the previous night, when Milwaukee management complained about where Braves catcher Javy Lopez was setting up. Opposing teams have long said that Atlanta pitchers are given the benefit of an extra-wide strike zone, particularly on the outside corners. Catchers who set up wide of the plate can increase the chances of an outside pitch being called a strike. The video was shown after a rare balk call against Fernando Lunar, the Braves catcher. Home-plate umpire John Shulock ruled that Lunar set up with his right foot outside the 43-inch-wide box. The balk led to Milwaukee's first run and a heated argument between Shulock and Braves manager Bobby Cox, who was ejected. Atlanta lost the game 2-1.
»September 19, 2002: The Braves defeat the Phillies, 6–0, as Bobby Cox becomes the 12th manager in ML history to reach the 1,800–win mark.