Preview Tour

Bobby Cox, who becomes eligible for election in 2014, visited the Baseball Hall of Fame

September 15, 2011
Bobby Cox and his wife Pam toured the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday. (NBHOF Library)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Former Braves manager Bobby Cox may be retired from baseball, but he certainly isn’t out of the game.

“I see the guys all the time. I talk to Fredi [Gonzalez] and Roger [McDowell] daily,” he said referring to the Braves manager and pitching coach. “I get my baseball fix that way.”

Cox certainly got his baseball fix on Thursday when he and his wife Pam toured the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Coxes received what might be the first of several tours of the Hall during their vacation to Cooperstown, because Cox will be eligible for Hall of Fame election in 2014 by the Expansion Era Committee.

Cox retired as skipper of the Braves following the 2010 season, his 25th with the Braves and his 29th overall as a manager. He ranks fourth on the all-time wins list and won four Manager of the Year Awards – one of only four managers to win in both leagues and the only one to have won it in consecutive years. He led the Braves to 15 straight division titles, won five pennants and the 1995 World Series title.

Cox is also the all-time leader in career ejections with 158. But although that fire still burns for baseball with the team in a pennant race, Cox was ready for a new challenge – life after baseball.

“I’m happy to be retired,” he said. “I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now.”

That includes some traveling, work with homeless pets and improving his golf game. But on Thursday, he got to dig into the history of the game he dedicated his life to.

“My favorite Hall of Famer is Stan Musial, believe it or not,” he said. “I grew up in California and it was before the Dodgers or Giants were out there and I could tune into a Cardinals affiliate. I became a huge Cardinals fan.”

Cox got to hold a Stan Musial bat in the collection as well as one from the final home run ever hit by Ted Williams. It was his fifth visit to Cooperstown, but the first time he has toured the Hall of Fame.

“It has been a terrific tour,” Cox said. “What strikes me is the volume of the collectibles and information available in the Museum. It is breathtaking for me. I’ve been following the game for a long time and I remember some of the faces in the old photos. It has been a great experience.”

The Coxes enjoyed seeing other special artifacts like Wonderboy from the movie “The Natural” and even the bat Bobby Thomson used for the ‘Shot Heard Round the World.’

“That was the most famous home run ever,” said Cox. “It is pretty incredible to me. And there’s the rosin bag – apparently (Ralph) Branca (who surrendered Thomson’s home run) didn’t get enough rosin on his hands.”

Cox has a number of former players and colleagues that will likely end up in the Hall of Fame in the near future. Starting pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine will be eligible for election by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in 2014 and John Smoltz in 2015.

“All three had a great makeup and were great people,” Cox said. “You can’t compete without good pitching and that is what we had with those guys.

Cox described Glavine as a bright kid and strong competitor, Smoltz as a great athlete and big game pitcher and Maddux as the smartest player he met in baseball.

“Greg could place the ball anywhere he wanted at any time. He had already pitched the ballgame in his head before he ever went out there.”

Braves current third baseman Chipper Jones and president and general manager John Schuerholz could also earn bronze plaques in the near future. If they do, they could be joining the man who led the great Braves dynasty to a place in history.

“If I do end up here, it will be the greatest thing in the world,” Cox said. “Managers don’t really think about it, maybe players do. It would really be a great honor.”

Samantha Carr is the former manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum