Yesterday the Atlanta Braves announced that manager Bobby Cox, who recently had been pondering his managerial future, signed a one year contract extension and will retire as field manager at the conclusion of the 2010 season.
Cox is a fixture with the Braves. He'll have completed 21 consecutive seasons at their helm by the time of his retirment, as well as an additional four seasons as their skipper at the start of his managerial career. He was also the Braves' General Manager from 1986 until returning to the dugout in June of 1990. When he retires after next season he'll have a five year contract waiting for him to serve the Braves as a baseball operations consultant.
But before Bobby Cox became so inextricably linked with the Braves, he had a lengthy history with the Yankees organization. After the 1967 season, Cox was a twenty-six year old with no Major League experience who had already washed out of the Dodgers, Cubs, and Braves systems in an eight year minor league career. On December 7th, the Braves flipped him to the Yankees for two bit players, one of whom would never again appear in the Majors.
The Yankees had fallen on hard times by 1968, and Cox was able to break camp with the team. Two weeks into the season he won the third base job, replacing Charley Smith (who incidentally had been all the Yankees received from St. Louis in exchange for Roger Maris just a year earlier). Cox had a fair season (91 OPS+) and the Yankees, who had finished ninth in the ten team league the year before, turned in a surprising 83-79 record and finished fifth.
In 1969 Cox lost the third base job to Bobby Murcer, who was returning from two years lost to military service. When Murcer was moved to the outfield thirty games into the season, it was Jerry Kenney, not Cox, who took over at the hot corner. Cox stuck with the team as a reserve through the year, but that was the end of his Major League playing career.
After spending 1970 at the Yanks' AAA team in Syracuse, the Yankees gave Cox a start on his second careeer, appointing him manager of the single A Fort Lauderdale team for 1971. The next year he moved up West Haven (CT) in the AA Eastern League, and then spent four seasons as the skipper for AAA Syracuse. In six minor league seasons, Cox compiled a 459-387 record (.543), and won the EL Championship in 1972 and the IL Championship in 1976. Cox then joined the Yankees' Major League coaching staff for the 1977 season, picking up his first World Series ring in the process.
Following the season, the Braves hired Cox and save for a four year stint as the Blue Jays manager from 1982-85, he's been there ever since. Cox ranks fourth on the all-time managerial wins list with 2,409, sandwiched between contemporaries Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre. However, LaRussa has compiled his victories with three different clubs, Torre with four. Cox's 2,054 wins as Braves skipper rank third behind Connie Mack and John McGraw for the highest total with a single club.