Atlanta Braves Top Franchise Managers– #2 Bobby Cox
The Atlanta Braves manager at number two on the list is undeniably the best manager since the team moved from Boston to Atlanta via Milwaukee.
I suspect Atlanta Braves fans and most Milwaukee Braves fans who followed the team south expected Bobby Cox to top the list. After all, Cox’s 21-year run in his second shot as Atlanta manager ties him with Tommy Lasorda for the fourth longest stay as a manager in baseball history.
However, there are other considerations, as you’ll see when we publish number one on the list.
Bobby the boy
Robert Joe “Bobby” Cox was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 21, 1941. His family moved to California in 1944 and settled in the San Joaquin Valley, where he attended Selma High School and, according to his SABR biography, became a Cardinals fan watching their minor league team in Fresno.
“I became a huge Cardinals fan and I can remember as a little kid cutting out the newspaper Stan Musial pictures. My idol growing up was Stan Musial.”
Cox was a three-sport athlete in high school and for Reedley Junior College but dreamed of becoming a Major League player and later a football coach.
Baseball Dream Realized
The Dodgers signed Cox in 1959 and paid a $40K bonus for the privilege. Cox. He remained in the Dodger system through 1964, when the Cubs selected him in the minor-league draft. The Cubs traded him to the newly minted Atlanta Braves in 1966, and the Braves swapped sent him to the Yankees after the 1967 season.
Most of us remember Bobby as a manager with creaking knees, but over his eight minor league seasons, he was a good-looking prospect, batting a combined .279/.360/.457/.817, including 198 doubles, 39 triples, 116 homers, and stole 79 bases in 99 attempts.
The Yankees brought him up in 1968 and gave him a chance to play alongside fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle. He later told Charles Bethea of Atlantic Magazine it was the thrill of his life.
. . . that was Mickey Mantle’s last year. I couldn’t wait to meet him (played) alongside Mickey — that was a big thrill. Mantle . . . tried to help me as much as he could. … (asked for) his most memorable moment with Mantle. . .Cox said, “We turned a triple play, the last triple play the Yankees had. Mickey was playing first.”
Knee injuries and illness forced him out of the game after the 1970 season.