Atlanta Braves Top Franchise Managers– #2 Bobby Cox

Atlanta Braves legendary manager Bobby Cox makes his acceptance speech as part during the induction ceremony for the class of 2014
Atlanta Braves legendary manager Bobby Cox makes his acceptance speech as part during the induction ceremony for the class of 2014 / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
2 of 5
Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox during his first tour of duty with the Braves. / Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Cox Becomes a Manager

When Yankees director of player personnel Lee McPhail heard Cox was retiring, he offered him a job managing Low-A Fort Lauderdale. A winning record there earned him a promotion to AA in 1972, where he repeated his success, and the Yankees promoted him again, this time to AAA Syracuse.

Cox produced a winning season in each of his four seasons at Syracuse and won the IL championship in 1976. He ended his six years managing in the minors with a 459-317 record - .591W-l%. In 1977 he acted as first base coach for Billy Martin with the infamous Bronx Zoo group that won the World Series.

Meanwhile, the 1977 Atlanta Braves posted the worst record in the NL. Ted Turner fired Dave Bristol and hired Bobby.

Atlanta Braves – Round One

Coming out of the Yankees system and the Bronx Zoo, Cox wanted to set the tone quickly.
Every spring training, he handed down six rules:

1. No beards.

2. No uniform pants covering the shoe tops.

3. Dress code.

4. Mind the curfew.

5. Be on time.

6. Play hard at all times.

Eddie Perez spoke years later about Cox's impact on him and his career.

“He taught me to not only be dressed good (at the ballpark), but dress good outside. … (Cox) said, ‘We’ve got to dress nice. There’s people around. We have to look like a professional player.’” Cory McCartney, Tales from the Atlanta Braves Dugout (New York: Sports Publishing, 2016), 164.

Cox inherited a team with weak defense and little offense. In 1980 the perennial losers moved up to finish fourth. He knew he needed the best coaches available and hired Don Baylor, Pat Corales, and Jimy Williams to fill out his coaching staff.

Defense improved, but the team continued to struggle at the plate, and at the end of the season, Turner replaced him with Joe Torre.


Cox wasn’t out of work long. His reputation for turning young players into finished major leaguers led Pat Gillick to hire Cox. The Blue Jays were the youngest team in the league and, like the Atlanta Braves when Cox arrived, stuck in last place.

After finishing last in 1982, the Jays slowly climbed the standings, finishing fourth in 1983, second in 1984, and winning the division in 1985, a run that raised attendance from 10th in the AL to second and earned Cox the AL Manager of the Year Award.

After the season, Ted Turner called, congratulated him on the award, apologized for firing him, and offered to make him GM.