Bobby Cox is in the hospital. Alex Anthopoulos, General Manager of the Braves, told MLB TV that the Hall of Fame official had a stroke and had an operation. His condition has been described as serious. According to Anthopoulos, he sees visitors and shouts after referees.
I laugh at the last part, and apologize if it seems inappropriate. But Bobby Cox is, among other things, one of the biggest kidders in the world. If we got too much here, he would sniff out, "Come on, Brad." So it's me, a person who has known him for 35 years, who just follows orders.
(And yes, he and no one else call me Brad.) One of the world's biggest kidders is also the worst pseudonym in the world Even before Kyle Farnsworth reported after being traded here, Cox l & rsquo; Nicknamed Farnsy, I grinned and said "Really? Farnsy?" He smiled and said, "Farnsy.")
There is no one in baseball who does not like Bobby Cox, referees included. It was odd to see how the thumb king would be ejected one night and would engage in a nice chat with the thumber the following night. "I would do anything for the referees," he once said, and he thought so sincerely. He loves people, which is the main reason he was so good at managing them.
According to Stan Kasten, who as president of the Braves persuaded Cox to stop being GM and return to the canoe, "The first question you have to ask a manager is:" Can he lead men? Bobby Cox could and would, finishing first – even if you know this fact by heart, it's still amazing – 15 times out of 15 consecutive full seasons. (Once in 1985 with the Blue Jays, then in a row with the Braves, not to mention the 1990 off-season after his replacement of Russ Nixon or the 1994 strike year). We say again: FIFTEEN TIMES.
One of the things that this shredder skipper has never liked: TV cameras. We who follow the sport to make a living, do not take into account the interviewees who do not have time to go to the press but who light up with the camera lighting. Cox was the opposite. He was ill at ease with the electronic media. (Have you ever noticed how he rarely looks into a camera?) He preferred the miserable ones a lot, and God bless him for that.
The visiting writers always made a pilgrimage to the Braves canoe to say hello. Cox greeted them warmly, calling them by name (or nickname) and treating them as if they were Red Smith at the top of his powers. "I like writers," he said, but in reality it pleased just about everyone who has a relationship with baseball.
Which does not mean that he could not get upset. Ask the umps. You can also ask the two relievers who, many years apart, have confronted Cox about their "role" – or lack thereof – among his staff. (Tom Glavine says: "The only thing you did not do, is to ask your role to Bobby Cox.") The first one approached Cox after a red eye at his place from the west coast and was incited by his Glavine comrades perhaps among them. Cox reacted by removing familiar adjectives: "You know this phone in the office? When it sounds and I tell you to throw, you start. That's your role. "
The other relieves relieved Cox on a flight. Cox told him that he had no role to play, considering how he had just been given up. Then he took the Airphone – do you remember it? – and called GM John Schuerholz. "I just cut a guy," said Cox. "How are you?" Schuerholz said that was the case.
To say that Cox loved each Brave was not very precise, but he acted as if he loved them as long as they were Braves. Once they left – and those he did not win for a long time – he sometimes left out a hint of his true feelings. When a great name, Brave, left his independent job and signed with a big city club, I mentioned that I did not think it would be that player's kind of city. Cox said, eyes dancing: "What city would be?"
Still, Cox did a great thing again and it surprised me a little: he was very good at retirement. Pam and he have their place in Saint-Simons and spend a lot of time there. When he is in town, he often goes (but not always) to the stadium. He tends to make furtive appearances, entering and leaving the clubhouse without ever trying to get the focus of attention, just the big skipper who stops to shake his hand, give him a pat on the back and say hello.
Freddie Freeman, before Wednesday's game, said: "We all know he's going to watch us tonight. … He will shout 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."
Brian Snitker, Cox's coach, said, "Bobby has the ability to make everyone feel like the most important person in the world."
I've seen the man a thousand times and every meeting is a treat. I know I'm on the cutting edge of journalistic distance – heck, I'm stomping on all this – but I'm not objective with Bobby Cox. He was an excellent manager. That's a great man. Good recovery, Coxy.
(Do you remember those writers from the city, that's what they call him – Coxy.) We scribes are also ugly nicknames.
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