Friday, October 01, 2010

Curtain Call for a Class Act

Going into the last regular-season series of his storied career, a three-game affair with the Philadelphia Phillies, Bobby Cox has managed for teams that have won 2,503 games. In Major League Baseball’s history only three skippers have more victories.

Although the Phillies have clinched the National League’s East Division, at this writing the Braves (90-69) hold a two-game lead over the San Diego Padres (88-71) for the league’s fourth postseason qualifying spot -- the wild card.

No matter how it turns out, playoff-wise, Cox will hang up his spikes for good once the Braves are through with their 2010 campaign. Fittingly, this season Cox has turned in one of the finest jobs of guiding a clubhouse full of egos and superstitions in his 29 years of calling the shots from the dugout.

Well, not always from the dugout. Cox holds the all-time record for managers being tossed out of ongoing games by umpires -- 158 and counting.

Although Braves pitching has been strong this year, there’s been no one the likes of Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine or John Smoltz on his staff. On offense it’s been done with smoke and mirrors more than power and speed.

Incidentally, Glavine and Smoltz both hurled for the Richmond Braves in the 1980s, when Cox was in Atlanta’s front office as the franchise‘s general manager. He was the guy who drafted/signed the players who formed the Great Eight of Richmond’s 1993 season, when the local all-time attendance record for a season was set (540,489).

The biggest star of that season at The Diamond, Chipper Jones, has played his entire 17-year career with one manager -- Bobby Cox, who, by the way, played third base for the Richmond Braves in 1967.

No doubt, there will be more than a few old R-Braves fans watching Saturday afternoon’s Phillies vs. Braves game at 4 p.m. on Fox. Lots of retired Braves players will be on hand to help the fans honor Cox's days in a baseball uniform during a pre-game ceremony.

Before that broadcast ends this Braves fan is hoping to see the old and new Braves players gathered around the crusty and crafty Bobby Cox, 69, to celebrate seeing him in the postseason picture for his last hurrah.

-- Words and art by F.T. Rea

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