Bobby Cox made an impact on his players

Bill Shanks

Former Braves manager Bobby Cox turned 79 years old Thursday. Happy Birthday to the Skipper. When someone says that word when they reference the Braves, they should be talking about Cox.

Bill Lucas, Atlanta's former general manager, selected Cox to succeed Dave Bristol for the 1978 season. Cox had been the New York Yankees third base coach, and before that he had been a Triple-A manager for the Yankees.

He was young, only 37 years old. But Cox had been around Ralph Houk when he was a player for the Yankees in the late-1960s. Houk was also known as a player's manager, and Cox obviously learned a lot about how managers should respect players and deserve that same respect in return.

He wasn't successful early on, as the Braves were full of young players. In Cox's third season, 1980, the Braves finally had a respectable season winning 81 games. But the next year, the strike-shortened season, the Braves fell back and owner Ted Turner fired Cox.

Thankfully, Cox returned four years later as general manager. Then, five years after that, Cox went back to the dugout to inherit the players he had put on the team.

You've heard stories about how his players would do anything for Cox. "They would run through a wall for that guy" is a commonly-used phrase. And throughout his time as manager, we saw plenty of examples of how Cox stuck up for his players, no matter what.

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