Atlanta Braves: Bobby Cox and the beauty of his cleats – and his cup
Atlanta Braves: ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian has always had an infectious joy for the game of baseball. Recently he helped remind Braves’ fans of that joy with his article on the great Bobby Cox.
ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian recently wrote an article on the legendary Atlanta Braves manager entitled, “Why it matters that Bobby Cox wore metal spikes his entire managerial career.”
If you are feeling fed up and jaded by the public mockery the owners and the players are making of our national pastime, then read Kurkjian’s article as a fresh reminder of the reasons why we tune in on lazy summer evenings.
The article was published on June 22 in honor of the 30-year anniversary of Bobby Cox being named the manager of the Atlanta Braves.
Kurkjian dives into Cox’s greatness by the numbers and by the opinions of those he managed. It’s a fun read and it serves as a necessary reminder of what we love about the game.
Yes, Cox wore cleats his whole career while most managers simply wear the uniforms. It’s never a bad time to ask the quesiton: Why do Major League managers wear the same uniforms the players wear?
They don’t do it in the NFL, NHL, or the NBA.
I mean, can you imagine Phil Jackson in a jersey and shorts?
Imagine Bill Belichick in full pads… actually, that would be an improvement.
So, why do baseball managers wear uniforms?
Easy baseball answer: Tradition.
In the early days of this great game, the people we now refer to as managers were actually known as the team captains. Typically a player on the team would also make the in-game calls and set the lineups. The captain had to wear a uniform because he was also a player.
Why does Major League Baseball mandate that the managers wear the players’ uniforms?
They don’t. That’s right! If a manager wanted to stroll out of the dugout and hand over the lineup card in a suit, he could do that.
I can see Gabe Kapler doing that…
But they don’t because it’s tradition.
While baseball managers are all players at heart, they don’t typically take it to the extent that the great Bobby Cox took it.
Adam LaRoche, who played for the Braves between 2004-2006 had the following to say:
"“You never see a manager wearing actual cleats. … It was hilarious,” Adam LaRoche once recalled of the Braves’ Hall of Fame manager. “It’s just his style. He went from playing right into coaching and managing and never took his cleats off.”"
Not only did Bobby Cox wear cleats every game, but he also wore a cup. In his soul, he was, is, and always will be a ballplayer.
Atlanta Braves – What Bobby Cox had to say about wearing cleats
Connie Mack managed the Philadelphia Athletics between 1901 and 1950. He and Burt Shotton of the Phillies and Dodgers in the 1940s are the only two managers to wear suits. The thing is, they never defiled the field of play by stepping foot on the grass with their silly dress shoes.
There’s no room for that in baseball. They would send uniformed coaches out for pitching changes and to dispute an umpire’s judgment.
The legendary former manager of our Braves, who has been ejected more than any manager in the long history of this game, shared his thoughts on wearing cleats with Sports Illustrated.
"“Could you imagine going out there in shiny dress shoes?” says Braves manager Bobby Cox. “How would you kick dirt on the umpire?”"
Thanks to Tim Kurkjian for this subtle reminder celebrating the subtleties of the game. It was a much-needed respite from thinking about prorated salaries, grievances, and salary advances.
All of a sudden, I can visualize Leo Mazzone anxiously rocking back and forth on the bench. I can see Bobby Cox kicking dirt on an umpire’s shoes because he definitely deserved it. I can hear Tim Kurkjian cackling because his colleagues are making fun of him for declaring how fascinated he is by Carlos Lee’s sacrifice flyballs.
If you would like more of a reminder as to why we love this game so much then check out one of my favorite books about the little joys of the great game of baseball, “I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies: Inside the Game We All Love” by Tim Kurkjian.
In a unified act of optimism, tell us about the little things you love so much about the game in the comments below!