Cox to retire as skipper after '10 season
Braves legend will move on to a consulting role with club
NEW YORK -- Braves manager Bobby Cox has never been one to seek great fanfare. But he's definitely going to experience it next year, as he enjoys the final season of his illustrious managerial career.
Wanting to end all speculation about his future, the Braves announced Wednesday afternoon that Cox will retire from his managerial position at the conclusion of the 2010 season and immediately enter into a five-year contract that will enable him to continue serving as a consultant with the organization.
"I'm thrilled and happy to be coming back next year," Cox said. "The retirement, it's time in my life that I do that. I'm delighted that they're going to keep me involved for several years."
Cox, who ranks fourth on Major League baseball's all-time list with 2,408 managerial victories, said that he's delighted to know that he'll continue to be a part of the game once he inches into his retirement. As a consultant for the Braves, he'll have the opportunity to evaluate and assist both players and coaches at the Major League and Minor League levels.
Cox's farm in Adairsville, Ga., is located about five minutes from where the Class A Rome Braves play. In addition, he'll still be in close proximity of Turner Field and Gwinnett Stadium, home of the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves.
"One of Bobby's greatest strengths is his relationship with his people," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "So his presence within our organization from a presence of whether it's mentoring our managers in the Minor Leagues or evaluating talent, that's one of the things that he's done so well. He's always been a great evaluator."
The one-year extension was agreed upon near the completion of the last week's homestand. But because Cox didn't want to deflect attention away from this past weekend's three-game series against the Phillies, he wanted to wait until Monday, when the club begins the season's final homestand, to make the announcement.
TOP OF THE HEAP
|Mangers with the most wins in baseball history:|
|1. Connie Mack||3731||.486|
|2. John McGraw||2763||.586|
|*3. Tony La Russa||2550||.536|
|*4. Bobby Cox||2408||.556|
|*5. Joe Torre||2242||.540|
|* = active through Sept. 22, 2009|
The decision to expedite the announcement of the extension was made on Wednesday, when Cox and Wren were disturbed by the fact that they were forced to answer questions about a disagreement that they had during Spring Training this year.
"In light of all the false information and speculation that has been out there the past two or three days, it's gotten to the point where we felt we really needed to nip it in the bud," Wren said.
Multiple Major League sources revealed that Cox was so upset following a meeting that Wren had with him and his coaches that he contemplated driving back to Atlanta.
Always respectful, Cox has denied that this event took place.
"You're going to have some disagreements and we've had a few, nothing major that somebody is going to quit their job over," Cox said.
While it appears that the Braves will miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive season, Cox was encouraged by the progress the club made over the course of the past year under the direction of Wren, who rebuilt the rotation into one that is regarded among the game's best and made key in-season acquisitions of center fielder Nate McLouth and Adam LaRoche.
"Having him back is great for us," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "The team that we have going into next season is one that really has a chance to do great things. All of us in this clubhouse want him to be the one that calls the shots. ... If next year is going to be his last year, we definitely want to send him out on a good note and get this organization back to where it was when he got here. "
Cox began his managerial career with the Braves in 1978. After enjoying a four-year stint with the Blue Jays from 1982-85, he returned to Atlanta to serve as the Braves' general manager before the start of the 1986 season.
While serving as the GM, Cox rebuilt the farm system that provided him a flurry of talent when he returned to the bench midway through the 1990 season. From 1991-2005, he led the Braves to an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles, five National League pennants and one World Series title.
"If I weren't announcing this right now, I'd be wanting to manage again somewhere," said Cox, who will be entering his 25th season as the Braves' manager next year. "But it's time to go ahead and say it. I don't think I'd ever give up the idea of managing, unless I could say, 'That's it,' and that's what I'm saying, is that it's it.
"I don't want to announce my retirement and have a day here and a day there. This gives me a chance to say goodbye to the writers, the clubhouse guys, the grounds crew guys that I've known forever, who have given us time on the field when they didn't have to with early workouts. Guys you meet in the game over 50 years are pretty precious."
Chipper Jones, who has known Cox since being selected by the Braves as the first overall selection in the 1990 First-Year Player Draft, said that he was happy to hear that his long-time skipper will return. But at the same time, he still hasn't allowed him to be convinced that he'll be coming back for just one more season.
"I'll believe it when I see it, when he walks away," Jones said. "He's been like my favorite granddad. He's been the one constant who has been here throughout the whole entire run. ... It would be culture shock for me to play for another guy."
Wanting to keep the attention on Cox, Wren said that he wasn't ready to address who may serve as a potential successor. But when it comes time to pick the Braves' next manager, he confirmed he'll definitely get a lot of input from the man who has handled the role so successfully over the course of the past 20 seasons.
"It's stressful," Cox said. "It really is. But at the same time, it's the most fun you could possibly have. Being able to stay connected is the biggest thing for me. I'm not going to miss the uniform or anything. I'll be around it enough while being involved in the Minor Leagues a little bit and a little up here."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.