Bobby Cox: A tip of the cap to the face of a city

A rare moment in a city’s history will happen Sunday, but not at the Capitol or City Hall.

The Braves will say goodbye to a manager. Atlantans will say goodbye to something more than that: A constant face during a remarkable chapter in our history.

Sunday is the final regular-season game for the Braves’ skipper, Bobby Cox. It’s unclear today whether the team will extend his career into one last postseason. But in case this weekend does mark the end, it’s worth noting what that means for metro Atlanta beyond the old ballgame.

It’s easy to overdo sports metaphors. But, simply put, the story of the Braves under No. 6 is the story of us.

Cox took the Braves’ reins (for the second time) in summer 1990. Maynard Jackson was (also for the second time) Atlanta’s mayor; Joe Frank Harris was wrapping up his tenure as governor. Like many of us, Cox was a transplant who came here for an opportunity and stayed awhile.

The constancy of his presence stands in contrast to the comings and goings of politicians, businessmen and other coaches (the Falcons and Hawks, between them, have had 14 head coaches during the Cox era). But it is the most superficial part of what I mean.

In June 1990, when Cox managed the first of almost 3,400 games, metro Atlanta was a different place. Town Center at Cobb was the newest shopping mall. Ga. 400 dead-ended at I-285. The region’s population, at less than 3 million, was just over half of what it is today.

While Atlanta was the undisputed capital of the New South, our international reputation was only budding. The world’s busiest airport was in Chicago. We were long shots for the Centennial Olympic Games to be awarded in three months’ time.

The city was known, but not yet renowned.

The Braves, for their part, were fixtures as “America’s Team” on TBS. But they had mostly been lovable losers.

The change in status was as sudden and stirring for us as it was for the team. Soon, this became an Olympic city; in what seemed like the next breath, the World Series visited for the first time. From there, the rise of city and team was dizzying, at times exhausting, but ultimately crowning. The Braves had their big moment in 1995, Atlanta a year later.

Neither one has matched the wattage of the mid-1990s. But nor did they go dark.

The Braves’ success came at a time of, and may have contributed to, unprecedented confidence for this city. It was unifying and gratifying for so many, another sign that Atlanta was a player, not an also-ran.

That said, Cox has received criticism for bringing home only one championship; the New York Yankees have won five crowns since 1990, and three other teams have won a pair. But I think there’s an analogy here.

Atlanta will never be the nation’s dominant city. I don’t think anyone expects otherwise. But we do want to be in the conversation.

Whatever his mistakes, whatever the final results, Bobby Cox had his team in the conversation. That’s where Atlanta is, where I think we’re striving to remain amid our own time of transition and uncertainty.

And while fans want to win this year for winning’s sake, I see in Cox’s final playoff push one last symbolic importance as well.

Lately, there have been questions about whether Atlanta is being surpassed by its rivals. The Braves since 2006 have also faded from the conversation.

This year, the Braves got back in the mix. They did it, as the Atlanta region must do, with a mix of old standbys and exciting new talents. This season has given fans optimism ahead of the transition, the kind that we as citizens desperately need.

For that, we owe Bobby Cox one last curtain call.

66 comments Add your comment

VOTE 4 NATHAN THE THIEF DEAL,CAUSE HE IS LIKE BUSH

September 29th, 2010
7:17 pm

good bye booby cox

@@

September 29th, 2010
7:49 pm

Miracle of miracles…not much of a sports fan, but I do know who Bobby Cox is.

On the rare occasion that I watched a Braves game, the highlight, for me, was watching that pitching coach rock the bench. Can’t remember his name…Italian, I think.

Mazetti? Leo? Something like that.

@@

September 29th, 2010
7:50 pm

Oh, and thank you, Bobby Cox.

josef nix

September 29th, 2010
8:30 pm

Thanks Kyle…

paleo-neo-Carlinst

September 29th, 2010
8:58 pm

ah yes, sports metaphors. I think you whiffed this one (but there will be other at-bats). I think the difference between Atlanta and the Braves is, the Braves (as demonstrated by Cox) never “wanted to be in the conversation”. they simply wanted to be the best, and the conversation would follow. Atlanta did it backasswards. Atlanta wanted to be in the coversation and its obsession with the conversation kinda caused it to cut corners. THEN, it was part of the conversation, but not the kind of conversation it had hoped. The State of GA as well.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

September 29th, 2010
9:09 pm

I always rooted against the Braves, it was the chop that did it for me.

It wasn’t Cox’s fault but he coulda told the fans to chill, just sayin…

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 29th, 2010
9:09 pm

@@

Leo Mazzone.

CAIR Bears

September 29th, 2010
9:16 pm

Goodbye Bobby Cox! You’ll always be a legend and the greatest manager!

To all the losers who are dissing Cox: PI$$ OFF!!!!!!!

jconservative

September 29th, 2010
9:36 pm

This city will not see the likes of Bobby Cox again. It was a wonderful run. Unmatched in the history of baseball; 14 straight titles
with players coming and going like a train station. And through it all one constant – Bobby Cox.

The Braves will hire another manager, Fredi Gonzalez gets my vote, but it will not be the same. Cox was unmatched as a manager of people. And that is what will be missed.

If I may borrow from Ernest Thayer’s 1888 poem:

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in Turner Field — Bobby Cox has gone out.

Thanks for the memories Bobby.

md

September 29th, 2010
9:37 pm

The ending of an era……..too many of those these days.

Good job Bobby – 14 straight will never be duplicated – in any sport.

Rafe Hollister

September 29th, 2010
9:46 pm

Bobby Cox is a class act, one of the few in Atlanta.

The Chop rules! Atlanta Braves are lucky to have something like that to get the fans aroused. Beats the heck out of waving a dirty towel over your head. When baseball fans think of the Braves they think of 14 in a row, Bobby Cox, good pitching, great defense, and the fans doing the Chop.

Tall

September 29th, 2010
10:21 pm

All of that talent that passed through that clubhouse: Glavine, Maddox, Smoltz, Avery, Justice, Jones McGriff, Pendleton just to name some….three World Series appearances and one victory. The party was over in 1996. The Braves are the Brooklyn Dodgers on the 1990’s and on 2000’s. Teams with less did the same. Oh, and ticket prices are going up next season.

md

September 29th, 2010
10:28 pm

“three World Series appearances and one victory.”

As the Marlins have shown, it is easier to win the series than it is to repeat 14 times. Sure, more series titles would have been great, but how many teams out there don’t even make it to the playoffs??

Old Man

September 29th, 2010
11:15 pm

Bobby Cox has made success with the Braves look easy. Before Cox, the Braves were a perennial laughing stock. More world series would be nice, but look at the Cubs. Cox winning percentage is nothing short of incredible. I personally believe he’s one of the best mangers in baseball, far and away the best the Braves ever had. He has also shown loyalty in an era of sports where loyalty is disappearing (see Lebron James). Gonna miss Bobby Cox and would not be surprise if the Braves return to the cellar, where they lived from the time of my birth until Bobby Cox took over.

Keep It Real Now!

September 29th, 2010
11:41 pm

Bobby Cox? The Face of Atlanta??????

Wouldn’t a more appropriate face for the City of Atlanta in 2010 be that of someone with bad credit, a criminal record, one or more illegitimate children, a blind allegiance to the (current) US President for no substantial reason, a Michael Vick jersey, the inability to use a turn signal while driving and/or a history or substance abuse?

Or Ted Turner?

Or Arthuer “Atlanter” Blank?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

September 30th, 2010
4:33 am

Spending bill OK’d to avoid shutdown-Urinal

The spending they ok, but the cutting? Eh, not so much.

Rinse and repeat, just sayin…

I Report :-) You Whine :-( mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

September 30th, 2010
6:35 am

While one strains to find evidence that Christianity guides Obama’s politics, it is true that politics guides his Christianity, particularly during campaign season. Obama still believes in the separation of Church and state, but he is not in favor of the separation of religious rhetoric from winning. The “Christian by choice” is more like a Christian by campaigning. The doctrines of Christianity are of no interest to him unless they happen to coincide with a political point he needs to make at a given moment, and even at those times his treatment of them is highly manipulative.-Neumayr, AmSpec

Why now does our little tard babble about his faith, with such incessant tone, after a year and a half of religious nonchalance?

Oh yeah, it’s kkkampaign season, I forgot, silly me.

@@

September 30th, 2010
6:43 am

Hillbilly:

Leo Mazzone.

Thanks! You’re MY huckleberry….or google, in this instance.

I was gonna say Maserati, but then thought….Italian car???

(ISH)

josef nix

September 30th, 2010
7:03 am

Rafe, IR/YW

The Pesky Savage in this household chops!

Brad

September 30th, 2010
7:50 am

Here, Here, Kyle! And as @@ and Hillbilly have noted, kudos to Leo Mazzone.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

September 30th, 2010
8:08 am

I am a great fan – I think his 21st century managerial skills – primarily the ability to manage diverse egos – is grossly under-appreciated. Surely we all second guess him for giving an old pro another chance, or leaving the pitcher in one batter too many going for the critical out, and when things go right we do not notice.

The measure of the man is not that he is the fourth-winningest manager of all time, but what people say after working for him. His record is near-phenomenal there, the near-unanimity of coaches and former players. The tributes are all earned, and he merits our respect as he rides into the sunset.

@@

September 30th, 2010
8:58 am

The measure of the man is not that he is the fourth-winningest manager of all time, but what people say after working for him. His record is near-phenomenal there, the near-unanimity of coaches and former players.

Among the many things (sports things) I did not know.

Grand Forks knew what he was talking about. Bobby has what it takes to be a good leader.

Cox for President!

We may have to change his last name. We’ve got too many cox in there now.

BC for President? That oughta make the anti-religion/separation folks happy.

(ISH)

sam

September 30th, 2010
9:02 am

well said kyle..this town will not know the full impact he has had on that organization until he’s gone. you can dwell on the one world series all you want but the amazing run they had is the real story..it’ll never happen again. he’ll be missed and the organization will certainly not be the same without him there everyday…alot like joe torre was for the yankees, Cox was the absolute and only man for the job….

jconservative

September 30th, 2010
9:03 am

To – Neumayr, AmSpec

1 Cor. 4: “3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” (NKJV)

Algonquin j. Calhoun

September 30th, 2010
9:05 am

The president talks about his religious beliefs because morons keep bringing it up. Christian douche bags, such as whiner, continually talk about his birth place, religion and everything but his skin color, which is really what they’re wanting to talk about. Take your christianity and shove it!

As for Cox, he seems a nice enough sort but one World Series win? That’s not a good total, considering the massive talent he had to work with.

Jefferson

September 30th, 2010
9:06 am

He can snatch defeat from the mouth of victory.

CAIR Bears

September 30th, 2010
9:24 am

““three World Series appearances and one victory.””

91,92,95,96 and 99. That would be 5 WS, not 3.

CAIR Bears

September 30th, 2010
9:25 am

“As for Cox, he seems a nice enough sort but one World Series win? That’s not a good total, considering the massive talent he had to work with.”

Let me guess, you’re a fair weather Yankee fan. Well, not every team can buy a title or 27.

“The president talks about his religious beliefs because morons keep bringing it up.”

WRONG!!!! The president brought it up.

“Christian douche bags”

Why are you calling the president a douche bag? Also, I love how “tolerant” you left wingers pretend to be.

Left wing management

September 30th, 2010
9:36 am

Excellent reflections! I completely agree with this, Kyle, and appreciate the stroll back through the years. The most mind-boggling part is to think that it’s now been 20 years since we learned of the Olympics being awarded to Atlanta. I remember so vividly what that felt like and I completely agree that it was amazing how rapid-fire all this was, first with the Olympics being awarded then suddenly the Braves becoming competitors virtually overnight. It really seemed to symbolize as you say something about the ever-striving, adolescent city with a chip on its shoulder.

That said, there’s no question there’s something really unsettling and strange – and also strangely Atlanta-esque – about the team’s failure to be more successful on the post-season level. It almost seems, once again, to mirror Atlanta’s own struggles as a city after it skyrocketed out of the ranks of the also-ran regional capitals and into the big leagues. What happened of course was that people gradually started to expect it to hold its own with these places – which it has struggled to do. Now when people arrive in Atlanta, a city they’ve heard the buzz about, they instantly wonder “so where’s the all-night subway?” where’s the Times Square / Michigan Ave? where’s the bustling waterfront fish market?” And Atlanta struggles to live up.

Anyway, I completely agree with you and have a bitter-sweet feeling as Cox says good-bye. Frankly, I’m mixed over whether it would be more fitting for the Braves to send him off with one more playoff run or with one more good-ol Atlanta-style collapse.

EattheRich

September 30th, 2010
10:03 am

The team was a huge under performer during those years, mainly due to the lack of coaching ability in Mr Cox. Of course, as just another drunken, wife-beating loser, he is emblematic of the city.

Forrest

September 30th, 2010
10:17 am

Momma said Bobby Cox was like a box of chocolates,”You never know what you are going to get”. Well that’s what Momma says.

Booger Biscuts and Gravy

September 30th, 2010
10:35 am

Good Riddance.

Producer

September 30th, 2010
11:07 am

You didn’t root for the Braves because of the chop? Were we all insensitive to the Indians or something? What a weenie!

markie mark

September 30th, 2010
11:18 am

for all of those of you who are a better manager, coach, etc. than Bobby Cox….lets see where we are in 10 years. I dont know about you guys, but I sat in crowds of under 3,000 in the early 1980’s. I was so close and it was so quiet that I once screamed at Bob Horner that “he sucked”…and he turned and looked directly at ME!. I for one, dont wanna relive those days….

Intown

September 30th, 2010
5:28 pm

Farewell Bobby Cox. Atlanta appreciates all you have done for her.

Though, I am as worried about the Braves future as I am Atlanta’s. Wondering if I should take my son to see them in the playoffs (if they make it) because he may never see them in the playoffs again in his childhood.

bravesgrl4life

September 30th, 2010
8:15 pm

Thanks, Kyle. This brought me to tears. I am a transplant from Florida, but was a Braves fan long before I moved here. I was 19 years old in 1990, watching in Florida. I spent the summer of 1991 watching Braves ball with my neighbor on a small TV in their bedroom while her husband and kids watched crap on their bigger TV. I’ll never forget that summer or how gratifying it was to be a Braves fan.

I remember watching the final game of the 95 World Series, and when the Braves won, I tried so hard to get my husband to go to Atlanta with me to be part of the parties.

In 1996, I remember watching the final game in a hotel room in Los Angeles and being broken-hearted when my beloved Braves lost to the Yankees.

All in all, I am proud to have been a Braves fan for the beetter part of my almost 39 years.

Thank you, Bobby, for all you have done for Atlanta and the Braves. You will be missed.

Allen

September 30th, 2010
9:30 pm

Passable attempt Kyle, but I’m really waiting for Furman Bisher’s tribute to Bobby.

Hit A Single

September 30th, 2010
9:39 pm

Bobby doesn’t have to apologize for winning only one World Series. 14 Division Titles says enough!
Those that question Bobby Cox don’t have an idea of how tough it is to get there. This may be his best managerial job this year. We sure are going to miss him.

Bama FALCON

September 30th, 2010
9:43 pm

and your manager of the BRAVES, Bobby Cox………………>>>>>>>>>>

bubba

September 30th, 2010
9:52 pm

Can this saying ever be so annoying? What about, ADIOS,GOOD RIDDENS?

Keith

September 30th, 2010
10:02 pm

Storyline Continues back at the AS Break.

Mccann hits the 3-run rbi that gives the lead to the National League Team their first win in severaly years. What does this mean? If the Braves could by somehow make it to the Classic, they would have homefield. Last year for Bobby and maybe for Chipper. Would be a fitting end.

GO BRAVES! :)

Keith

September 30th, 2010
10:04 pm

Re: Hit a Single

You’re exactly right. This year has been amazing with all the injuries and “quilting” together of a lineup.

Have you seen the current lineup?

Cox has my utmost respect and will be one of the greatest motivational coaches to go down in baseball history.

Ron Meany

September 30th, 2010
10:16 pm

Good Riddance, Booby.

Fins and Chins

September 30th, 2010
10:18 pm

Atlanta as a city sucks and is an embarrassment to Georgia, and that’s pretty difficult to do, considering the large number of morons who reside here.

Wreckmaniac

September 30th, 2010
11:31 pm

As an original Atlanta native ( one of less than a dozen) I can really appreciate this. I was at Tech while the Hyatt Regency was under constuction and well know the change in this city that occurred in the 90’s.
We started with Tech’s national football championship, went to Tech being in the final 4 bball tourney in Denver ( I was there also) and had this magnificient Braves season. It seems we became the toast of the nation then as Bobby continued with his incredible year after year win streak. Truly amazing. Until then Atlanta was a 2nd tier town but no longer. The Olympics came and the streak continued. What a ride. It was a glorious era. Thank you.

Wreckmaniac

September 30th, 2010
11:33 pm

Fins and Chins: Take Greyhound and leave, idiot.

Wreckmaniac

September 30th, 2010
11:38 pm

Allen: Thank you. I too want to read the tribute of Bobby from the amazing Furman Bisher. Although this article is wonderful, Mr Bisher is the SUPERDEAN of this city. Anyone who has lived in the Atl from the 40’s ( as I have, mostly ) recognize Mr Bisher as the authority, bar none.

Wreckmaniac

September 30th, 2010
11:57 pm

For the Cox naysayers ( I’m being defensive) lets compare him to the other two current “great managers” Larussa and Torre. Larussa has always believed in hitting, hitting, and hit some more. So what has he accomplished ? I’ll let you tell me.
Torre, with Steinbrenner’s billions , has won many World Series but has shown in LA that he can make a good team worse.
I’ ll take Bobby.

Stewart

October 1st, 2010
12:09 am

One other connection… folks who slam Bobby Cox for guiding teams of varied talent consistently to the playoffs are quite similar to folks who slam Atlanta for not being the city that they have in mind. Sometimes, you have to look at what’s actually there, and learn to appreciate it.

MitchC

October 1st, 2010
5:28 am

I’ve been a Braves fan since 1983, but I’m from Pennsylvania, not Atlanta. A man named Joe Torre was the Braves manager when I started following the Braves.

When Bobby took over the Braves in June 1990, they were in last place. Five other managers had managed the Braves in the seven years I had been a fan. I didnt think much of it. I figured: He’s the GM. He’s probably just going to finish the season. Little did I know.

A year later: An innocent September, that put us all on the edge of our seats. So many division titles. Yes, only one “World Series”, but so much success.

Hopefully, Bobby’s career will be extended for at least several more postseason games, but, whenever the Braves season does end, it will be the end of an era.

Bobby belongs in the Hall, no doubt. There have only been a few managers like him in baseball history. His retirement will be a huge void for the Braves to fill, no matter who their next manager is.