I started following baseball the year Bobby Cox was hired to manage the Braves. It’s impossible to overstate his importance to the franchise, not only as a manager, but as the architect of the team of the 90s (trading for Smoltz and drafting Chipper, Avery, Justice, etc.). No one has had a bigger impact on baseball in Atlanta than Robert Joseph Cox.
(From a 2010 SI profile)
Before we talk about sacrifice, or phantom blackbirds, or the Chipper Jones Momentum-Turn Hypothesis, let me tell you about the time Bobby Cox demolished a toilet with one bare hand.
It happened at Shea Stadium. Braves shortstop Darrel Chaney slid into home, and the plate umpire called him out, and Chaney raised enough Cain to get himself ejected. Cox was so furious on his player’s behalf that he went to the bathroom by the dugout and visited justice upon the toilet. Chaney saw the shattered tank, the gushing water, and he loved the skipper for what he had done.
Chaney decided he would do anything for Bobby Cox, even ride the bench without complaint, which he did for most of the 1979 season. He played so seldom in the dusk of his career that he basically forgot how, and by mid-September his average had fallen to .111. Cox called him into the office.
They’re not renewing your contract, he said. They’re gonna release you. But I’ll play you as much as I can these last two weeks, so other clubs can see you.
Chaney was a career .217 hitter. He went out those last two weeks and hit .333 for Bobby Cox. And then he retired.
Included are details of Bobby’s first ejection: May 1, 1978 against the Mets.
The Atlanta Constitution reported that Braves pitcher Tommy Boggs found a sick blackbird before the game and nursed it back to health. The article said the blackbird “seemed to attack plate umpire Nick Colosi at the top of the seventh inning,” after he had thrown Cox out. “Nobody knows for sure if Boggs gave the command to attack.”
Boggs now coaches at Concordia University Texas in Austin. When asked if the story was true, he recalled something about a bird but denied using it as a weapon of vengeance. Then again, he said, “Sometimes I have a hard time remembering last week.”
He was sure of one thing: “I’ll be loyal to Bobby Cox for as long as I live.”