Happy Birthday Bobby Cox

Bill Shanks

Bobby Cox turns 79 years old Thursday. Happy Birthday to the Hall of Fame manager for the Atlanta Braves.

We all know what Cox did as manager and why he is in Cooperstown. He had 2504 wins, fourth-most in baseball history as a manager. But as we celebrate this man, and especially what he did for the Braves, we must not forget something else.

In 1985, team owner Ted Turner wanted Cox back with the Braves. He had already hired Chuck Tanner, who had left the Pittsburgh Pirates, as Atlanta’s new manager. Turner wanted Cox to manage again, but Cox was tied up managing the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series.

So, Turner went ahead and hired Tanner and waited on Cox. He thought Cox could perhaps become the general manager. Turner was involved more in his television empire, and he knew he would not spend as much time with the Braves. He needed someone in charge.

Even when he managed in Toronto Cox still lived in Marietta, Ga., and he missed being home. When Turner offered him the chance to return to Atlanta, Cox took the job. He would be in charge of reshaping the Braves, while Tanner would manager the team on the field.

For years, the talk was that pitchers could not succeed pitching half the games in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. It was known as “The Launching Pad” for a reason, as balls flew out of the round stadium.

Cox believed the Braves just had not prioritized pitching before, so that became his focus. In every trade he made as general manager, Cox got a pitcher back. The drafts became pitching-oriented, and the development of pitchers became the primary focus of the organization.

Well, we now know years later that it worked. Almost five years after rejoining the Braves, Cox went back to the dugout to lead the players he had assembled. But it was his strategy, his plan that allowed the Braves to change from cellar-dwellers to perennial contenders.

And with that, we should always appreciate what Bobby Cox did as general manager of the Atlanta Braves. His decisions changed this organization forever.

Listen to The Bill Shanks Show weekdays at 3:00 p.m. ET on Middle Georgia’s ESPN. You can listen online at TheSuperStations.com. Follow Bill on Twitter at @billshanks and you can email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.