Bobby Cox on retirement: ‘Won’t hit me until the last game’

A pregame ceremony: Bobby Cox hates these. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

A pregame ceremony: Bobby Cox absolutely hates these. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Bobby Cox tries not to think about it. It’ll be tough, given that everybody will be asking from now until October. And the man who hates doing even an on-camera interview cringes — really, he cringes – at the thought of going into St. Louis, say, and being handed a parting gift in a pregame ceremony staged by the Cardinals.

“I didn’t want anything to do with that type of thing,” he said Tuesday. “My preference was always to just announce [his retirement] after the season, but then I figured, ‘If I don’t do it now [meaning make the announcement on Sept. 23, 2009 that 2010 was to be his final season], I’d probably keep managing — somewhere else if not here.”

As it stands, this is it. One more summer and then sit back and wait for the call from Cooperstown. And do lots of traveling, spend time with the many grandchildren, offer the Braves an opinion on baseball whenever they ask. “I’m still going to be connected,” he said. “That eases the pain of not being on the field and being involved in a game.”

Cox will turn 69 in May. He has worked other jobs — on the farms and at a raisin-dehydrating plant back in his native California, and one offseason he even sold cars. (Times were different then. Professional ballplayers, even big-leaguers, had to find work in the winter.) But the man’s primary occupation has been baseball since he was 18.

“I made $7,200 my first year [with the big-league Yankees], and I couldn’t break even. Then they raised the minimum salary to $9,000, and I could. And then along came Marvin Miller [the lawyer who filed the groundbreaking lawsuit on behalf of Curt Flood] the next year, and everything changed.”

On this January morning Cox was in his office at Turner Field, making the first preparations for his final trip to Lake Buena Vista as Braves manager. He has been traveling the past two weeks, first to Puerto Vallarta for the annual getaway, then to Wilmington, N.C., to help one of the many grandchildren situate herself in college. His next sojourn will be the drive to Florida on Feb. 13, six days before pitchers and catchers report. When it’s baseball, Cox is invariably the first to arrive.

Come October, however, he’ll be leaving. He’s not treating 2010 any differently than 1980 or 1995 or 2009. He’s going to Disney to stitch together a ballclub, and then he’ll fight for that aggregation the way he has fought every pitch of every game of every season. And will the final time around be soaked in melancholy?

“I honestly don’t think it will. It won’t hit me until the last game … the last pitch, really … Hopefully that will be in the World Series.”

How might it be next winter, with no roster to stitch together? “It’ll be different. But I’ll stay involved [with the Braves] in some tiny capacity. I’ll get to see the games, and I’ll help in any way I can, but mostly I’m going to stay out of the way.”

We’ll delve into Cox’s thoughts on the 2010 Braves tomorrow, but we’ll leave it today with the source of 151 early exits for this manager. Namely, umpires. Is Cox expecting a going-away present from the guys who’ve so often sent him away?

“Get out of here,” he said, amiably. Then this: “I’ve always that a player or a manager or a coach would do anything to help an umpire in distress. That’s a rough job.”

131 comments Add your comment

Benjamin

January 26th, 2010
12:54 pm

Benjamin

January 26th, 2010
12:55 pm

I’ve been waiting weeks for that, MB. WEEKS!

(I’ll be at Bobby’s last game. Always loved the guy… despite his flaws, he’s as big a part of Atlanta sports history as anyone, in my opinion.)

jimmy

January 26th, 2010
12:55 pm

bobby will be missed

mmgtfan

January 26th, 2010
12:59 pm

Mark you have posted blogs at one in the morning for two nights in a row. Livin la Vida loca I see

Clay

January 26th, 2010
1:02 pm

Can’t wait for his book, “How To Manage the Most Talented MLB Team for 14 Years and Win Just One World Series!”

Memphis Mike

January 26th, 2010
1:03 pm

The following sentence makes me wonder if there was pressure on him to retire.

“I’d probably keep managing — somewhere else if not here.”

ASHEVILLE DAWG

January 26th, 2010
1:05 pm

Enter your comments here

Brian Asselstine

January 26th, 2010
1:05 pm

I’ll miss watching him pick his nose in the dugout.

Neutral fan

January 26th, 2010
1:07 pm

Who is Curt Floor?

ASHEVILLE DAWG

January 26th, 2010
1:09 pm

6th is as close as i can get. Good luck Bobby in your final season, and may the speculation start on who will replace him. Terry Pendleton’s my guess.

ASHEVILLE DAWG

January 26th, 2010
1:11 pm

Curt Flood of the Cardinals.

Bob Yarbrough

January 26th, 2010
1:11 pm

Class people are hard to find in this day & time, if there is a claas person, Bobby Cox is that man. He has meant so much to the Atlanta Braves. I am proud to have watched him for all these many years.

Who cares...

January 26th, 2010
1:13 pm

…you’re talking about baseball during football and basketball seasons!!!!

BravesFanLostInOhio

January 26th, 2010
1:20 pm

Dear “Who Cares”
It’s always baseball season. But, yes, the part with the games is better.

AndyC

January 26th, 2010
1:22 pm

I agree with Bobby. It would have been better not to say he was retiring so he wouldn’t have to deal with all that pregame ceremony crap at each ballpark. They only do it because they feel like they have to. I hate that kind of stuff too.

Howdybob

January 26th, 2010
1:22 pm

Hey, WHO CARES.. IF you not, why are you posting comment in here. use your times wisely!

whiskey bottle

January 26th, 2010
1:24 pm

I got a stick here that all the bobby cox haters can sit on……..if you don’t love bobby cox…..you might as well burn your braves gear because you are not a true fan of the braves

Brian Asselstine

January 26th, 2010
1:24 pm

I wonder if Bobby will shave his eyebrows for his final season. That would be cool and probably rally the troops.

messin with sasquatch

January 26th, 2010
1:25 pm

so in honor of this, will he set a new single season record for managers getting tossed?

Mark Biles

January 26th, 2010
1:29 pm

Certainly will miss Bobby Cox. You can say what you want to about him, but he certaily is a winner and he obviously was well respected by his players. For this Braves fan since the late 60s, I can say for certain that no Braves manager has ever been as successful and I doubt any future Braves manager will ever be as successful as Bobby was.

Gerry

January 26th, 2010
1:34 pm

God bless Bobby Cox we love you Bobby

wheelz007

January 26th, 2010
1:35 pm

Bobby’s a real class act.

collegeballfan

January 26th, 2010
1:38 pm

“Can’t wait for his book, “How To Manage the Most Talented MLB Team for 14 Years and Win Just One World Series!”

Sir, I cannot wait until I read your book, “How to Be Totally Ignorant of Baseball, And Not Know It”.

Brian Asselstine

January 26th, 2010
1:38 pm

Bobby gave me a pinch of copenhagen at QT one time.

Blackberry Cobbler

January 26th, 2010
1:38 pm

Cox retirement– can’t come soon enough!!!!!!!!!

Marty

January 26th, 2010
1:38 pm

I’ve been a Braves fan since 1980. I remember the great days of Dale Murphy, Jerry Royster, Bob Horner, Biff Pocoroba, etc. Those were great memories. But the greatest time started with a Sid Bream slide into home plate. My memories include the Lemmer, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Avery, Gant, Justice, etc…and BOBBY COX. You cannot be a true Braves without being a Bobby Cox fan. If you do hate him, please go root for the Redskins because you don’t know baseball. Period.

Jason Timberlane

January 26th, 2010
1:48 pm

Hey Bob Yarbrough,

If Bobby Cox is your definition of class, you must live in the most rat-infested trailer park in Georgia.

Roger McDowell = Mike Vick of Pitching Coaches

January 26th, 2010
1:49 pm

Bring Back Leo Mazzone.

Bruce Mac

January 26th, 2010
2:06 pm

College Ball Fan, Clay’s book will be: “How to prepare at Big Mac correctly and anonymously criticize those successful people around me”.

Clay

January 26th, 2010
2:06 pm

Yeah, Bob Yarbrough, slapping your wife is very, very classy.

Space Monkey

January 26th, 2010
2:06 pm

Why on Earth did he come back to manage this load of crap?

Clay

January 26th, 2010
2:08 pm

So, Bruce Mac, did you not just do the same thing?

bvillebaron

January 26th, 2010
2:09 pm

Stop with the comments about how you allegedly can’t be a Braves’ fan without being a Bobby Cox fan. I was a Braves fan BEFORE Cox was the manager and will remain one after he retires. Bobby has good attributes which primarily are his ability to keep everyone on the team involved during the regular season. However, he has only been a fair, at best, strategic manager during the post season. Slice it any way you want to, but the fact remains that the man had some tremendously talented teams, headed by a rotation that featured 3 Hall of Famers, and won exactly ONE World Series in 14 straight tries. Given that reality, there are ample grounds, Collegeballfan and others, to know a little bit about baseball and not feel that Bobby Cox is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Clay

January 26th, 2010
2:13 pm

Collegeballfan, please enlighten me as to how I am totally ignorant of baseball, by stating a fact? Or did I miss the other World Series championships?

Mark Bradley

January 26th, 2010
2:14 pm

I think you can be a Braves fan without being a Bobby Cox fan. But it must be hard.

Herschel Talker

January 26th, 2010
2:14 pm

Fire Booby the Donkey. The team has no chance next year with this moron as manager. Bring back Fredi Gonzalez.

Herschel Talker

January 26th, 2010
2:15 pm

Yes, Mark it is hard to be a Braves fan and to realize the horrible manager that we have. Very frustrating.

darrel cheney

January 26th, 2010
2:19 pm

Wish I could have played for bobby. Then maybe I wouldn’t have booted so many balls.

Stadium Cleaning Service

January 26th, 2010
2:21 pm

We won’t miss sweeping up all of those buggers …

Hillbilly Deluxe

January 26th, 2010
2:23 pm

“I’ve always that a player or a manager or a coach would do anything to help an umpire in distress. That’s a rough job.”

Isn’t there a word missing there or something?

Bruce Mac

January 26th, 2010
2:25 pm

Clay, I doubt you are going into the Hall of Fame but if you are I apologize.

pryguy

January 26th, 2010
2:25 pm

Bradley,

I always give you a hard time about your pieces. I cannot even come to mention any negativity toward this. Bobby Cox has been such an integral part to this organization and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him as a person and a manager. I just hope in his final year the Braves can send him out on top. I am still a little skeptical of the offense, but if Glaus and Chipper return to form it should be an effective collection of hitters.

Benjamin

January 26th, 2010
2:26 pm

In my opinion, the “one World Series ring” thing is way, wa-a-a-ay overplayed. That fourteen run of baseball dominance was something that had never been done before, and will likely never be done again. Bobby should be credited for that more than denied credit because he only won one ring.

Had it not been for Cox, Schuerholz, and some of the guys who guided the ball club to that level, the Chuck Tanners and Russ Nixons of the world would’ve had us go through the nineties as the Pittsburgh Pirates/Kansas City Royals of today. We would’ve been talking about one of the colossal losers in the history of sport rather than a franchise that set a standard for excellence, even if they fell short in short serieses. As a fan, I’m incredibly proud of what the Braves accomplished; it may never happen again.

gcs

January 26th, 2010
2:27 pm

How do we know he’s not going to pull a “Favre”?

.

Benjamin

January 26th, 2010
2:27 pm

…and it was actually longer than 14 — lol — 1991-2006, minus the strike season…

We were incredibly fortunate to get to see those guys in the mix every October. And Bobby played a very large part in all of that.

Benjamin

January 26th, 2010
2:28 pm

Favre isn’t 69, GCS. ;)

Old Dawg

January 26th, 2010
2:31 pm

I’m real tired of reading and hearing these fans who sit back and criticize Bobby for only winning one
World Series with much a more talented team. You all forget that the other playoff teams were also
very talented teams. It’s funny how “our” players are perceived to always be better, whether it be
the Braves or UGA. The one thing I noticed in the playoff games during those glory years was that
Glavine & Maddux didn’t get the borderline pitches like they did in the regular season (probably)
because the umpiring was subjected to the microscope a little more. At any rate, Bobby is revered
by his peers who know a lot more about baseball than all the second-guessers out there who
obviously who could manage a major league team if they chose to.

lanier

January 26th, 2010
2:32 pm

Thank god no more Leibrant to Puckett. hope Leo didnt have anything to do with that

gcs

January 26th, 2010
2:32 pm

He’s pretty close!

.

DZ

January 26th, 2010
2:33 pm

Bobby Cox on retirement: ‘Won’t hit me until the last game’:

I guess that will be October 3, 2010.