Cox’s excellence brings unprecedented honors
Bobby Cox was practically a permanent fixture in the Atlanta Braves’ dugout by the mid-2000s.
On Nov. 9, 2005, Cox did something no manager had ever done when he was named Manager of the Year in back-to-back seasons.
Cox began his major league managerial career with the Braves nearly three decades earlier in 1978. Following the 1981 season, he was hired as the Blue Jays’ manager, where he stayed for four years. In 1985, the Blue Jays won the American League East with a franchise record 99 victories. Cox was honored that November with the AL Manager of the Year award.
“I’m thrilled to death, and deeply honored,” he told the UPI. “I’m not just saying this, but without the players and staff we had this year it wouldn’t have been possible.”
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After the 1985 season, Cox was hired as the Braves’ general manager. During his time in the front office, Atlanta acquired John Smoltz in 1987 and drafted Chipper Jones first overall in 1990.
Cox re-entered the Atlanta dugout in the middle of the 1990 season, assuming a position he would hold until his retirement after the 2010 season. From 1991 until 2005, the Braves did not record a losing season and qualified for the postseason in every year one was contested.
In 1991, the Braves became the first National League team to go from worst-to-first in back-to-back years. With Cox at the helm, the Braves went from 65-97 in 1990 to 94-68 in ’91. He was named the 1991 NL Manager of the Year, becoming the first manager to win the award in both leagues.
“When you walked into the Braves’ clubhouse after most games this season, you couldn’t tell if they’d won or lost,” the Atlanta Constitution wrote. “The players, along with manager Bobby Cox and his coaches, took life in stride. That was partly a baseball thing, but mostly a Braves thing.”
Throughout the 1990s, the Braves continued to produce winning seasons – sitting atop the NL East and capturing the franchise’s first World Series title in Atlanta in 1995.
In 2004, the Braves went 96-66 and won the division by 10 games. On Sept. 29, 2004, the Braves defeated the Mets 6-3 and Cox won his 2,000th game as manager. That off-season, Cox was named NL Manager of the Year – winning his second award with the Braves and third overall.
“We’d do anything for that man,” Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche said in 2004. “We all love him.”
In 2005, the winning ways continued in Atlanta. The Braves finished 90-72 and won the division title for the 11th consecutive season. Smoltz started 33 games, led the team with 14 wins and was named to his seventh All-Star team.
On Nov. 9, 2005, Cox became the first manager to win back-to-back Manager of the Year awards. He was listed on each of the 32 ballots and received 28 first place votes. “It’s an honor, again,” Cox said. “It’s something we don’t set out to win, that’s for sure. ... I just wrote their names in the lineup and tried to encourage them.” Cox finished his managerial career with 2,504 wins, which ranks fourth all-time. He and Tony La Russa each have the most Manager of the Year awards, with four apiece. Cox was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
Arielle Gordon is the Digital Content Specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum