Bobby Cox is in the hospital. Alex Anthopoulos, the general manager of the Braves, told MLB TV that the Hall of Fame manager had suffered a stroke and had undergone surgery. His condition has been described as serious. According to Anthopoulos, he is seeing visitors and shouting at the referees.
Joking about the last part, and apologies if that seems inappropriate. But Bobby Cox is, among other things, among the greatest children in the world. If we got too sad here, he would snort: "Come on, Brad." So this is me, someone who has known him for 35 years, just following orders.
(And yes, he, and nobody else, calls me Brad.) One of the best children in the world is also the worst nickname in the world.Even before Kyle Farnsworth reported after being exchanged here, Cox referred to him as Farnsy. I grimaced and said "Really? Farnsy?" He smiled and said, "Farnsy."
There is no one in baseball who does not like Bobby Cox, including referees. It was amazing how King Thumb would be expelled one night and engage in a pleasant conversation with the judge the next. "I would do anything for the referees," he told me once, and he meant it. He likes people, which is the main reason why he was so skilled in his management.
As Stan Kasten, who as president of the Braves persuaded Cox to stop being a GM and return to the dugout: "The first question you should ask a manager is: Can he lead men?" , Bobby Cox could and ended First, even if he knows this memory factoid, it's still amazing: 15 times in 15 consecutive full seasons. (Once in 1985 with the Blue Jays, then in a row with the Braves, not counting the 1990 part-time after he replaced Russ Nixon or the one-year strike of 1994). We say again: FIFTEEN TIMES.
One thing that this tireless chipper skipper did not like: the television cameras. We who follow sports to make a living, not those interviewed who do not have time for the printing press but turn on with the camera lights on. Cox was the opposite. I was restless with electronic media. (Have you ever noticed that he rarely looked at a camera?) He much preferred us, the wretches stained with ink, and God bless him for that.
The visiting writers would always make a pilgrimage to the shelter of the Braves to greet. Cox would greet them cordially, calling them by their name (or nickname), and treat them as if they were Red Smith at the peak of their powers. "I like writers," he told me, but he really liked almost everyone who had something to do with baseball.
Which does not mean he could not get angry. Ask the umps. Or ask the two Braves relievers who, many years apart, confronted Cox about his "role", or lack thereof, in his staff. (Tom Glavine said: "The only thing you did not do was ask Bobby Cox about your role.") The first approached Cox after a red-eyed home on the west coast and was chased by his fellow throwers, the cunning Glavine. maybe between them. This was Cox's response, the colloquial adjectives were eliminated: "Do you know that phone in the bullpen? When it sounds and I tell you to throw, you throw, that's your role."
The other reliever supported Cox on a flight. Cox told him that he no longer had any role, since he had been forced to renounce him. Then he took the Airphone, remember that? – And called GM John Schuerholz. "I just cut a man," said Cox. "That's fine?" Schuerholz said it was.
To say that Cox loved all the brave was not entirely accurate, but he acted as if he loved them whenever they were brave. Once they left, and those that he was not here for a long time, he occasionally let loose a small clue about his true feelings. When a well-known Brave left as a free agent and signed with a big city club, I mentioned that he did not think it was that player's city clbad. Cox said, with his eyes dancing: "What city would it be?"
However, one more thing that Cox has done wonderfully, and this surprised me a little: he has been very good at retirement. He and Pam have a place in St. Simons and spend a lot of time there, and when in town they are often (but not always) in the stadium. Tends to make stealthy appearances, entering and leaving the clubhouse, without trying to become the center of attention, only the great captain stops to shake hands, give a pat and say "hey".
Freddie Freeman said, speaking before Wednesday's game: "We all know he's watching us tonight … he's going to yell at us, one thing we know is that Bobby wants the Braves to win."
Brian McCann said: "Bobby Cox is one of the best human beings we have ever met."
Manager Brian Snitker, who was Cox's third base coach, said: "Bobby has a way of making everyone feel like they are the most important person in the world."
I have seen the man a thousand times, and each meeting is a delight. I know I'm getting close to the journalistic line, hell, I'm trampling on it, but I'm not objective with respect to Bobby Cox. He was a great manager. He's a great man. Recover soon, Coxy.
(Do you remember writers from out of town? That's what they called it – Coxy.) We scribes are bad guys with nicknames, too.
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