Bobby Cox might be heading to Hall of Fame
Published 8:38 pm Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I was glad to see that former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox will be on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot next year along with two of his former ace pitchers Greg Maddox and Tom Glavin.
Cox had a brief playing career with the New York Yankees where he was a teammate of the late Yankees Hall of Fame center fielder Mickey Mantel. His post playing career also included a short managerial stint with the Toronto Blue Jays and a short general managers stint with the Braves.
Cox was a superb handler of players and only asked that they respect the game, give 100 percent at all times and wear the uniform with pride.
I vividly remember one game several years ago when former Braves All-Star center fielder Andru Jones loafed while going after a fly ball. The ball fell in front of him and Cox promptly sent a replacement center fielder in for him. Jones had to return to the dugout and face Cox.
Outstanding baseball managers like Cox probably have less to do with a game’s outcome than the head person in any other professional sport. Football coaches can draw up a play to score a touchdown, and basketball, hockey and soccer coaches can draw up a play to score a basket or goal. Baseball coaches and managers cannot draw up a potential game winning home run or base hit. The players must deliver them.
The main strategy situations baseball managers have to deal with involve when to hit and run, when to steal a base and when to call the bullpen and bring on a relief pitcher. A mistake in one of those areas could cost you a game.
While growing up as a youngster in Keyport, N.J., which is located just 35 miles from New York City, I saw three great managers employ their trade. I am talking about Casey Stengel of the New York Yankees, Walter Alston of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Leo Durocher of the New York Giants. They were all great strategists and their teams always gave 100 percent efforts.
Durocher was not as successful as Stengel and Alston, but he did have some moments. One of them came in 1951 when his National League champion Giants defeated the American League champion Cleveland Indians for four games straight in the World Series.
One of my childhood heroes back in those days was Giants center fielder Willie Mays, the Say Hay Kid. He made an outstanding over the shoulder catch of an Al Rosen shot in deep center field in New York’s old Polo Grounds that kept the verdict close in game one.
While football might require more pure athletic ability and toughness and basketball might require more leaping ability and quickness, it is said that the most difficult single thing to do in any sport is stand 60 feet, 6 inches away from a pitcher throwing a baseball at speeds between 90 and 100 miles an hour and hit it with a wooden bat.
When you watch a professional baseball game on television or in the stands, you can’t get any concept of how fast the ball is really traveling. It is just a blur.
Outstanding baseball hitters all have one key trait in common: outstanding hand-eye coordination.
While Cox may not be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame next year, the fact that he will be on the ballot means he will have a great shot at being voted in eventually. Whenever that happens the honor will be richly deserved.