Early Life & Career
Robert Joe Cox was born on May 21, 1941, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. He grew up in Selma, Fresno County, California, where he attended the 'Selma High School' and the 'Reedley Junior College.'
In 1959, Cox was drafted to the 'Los Angeles Dodgers' and ended up with a 7-year-long stint, though he never played for the team's ‘Major League’ version.
In 1966, he moved to the 'Atlanta Braves' and played as a third baseman (or 3B) for their team ‘AAA Richmond’ the following year. However, for the 'Braves,' too, Cox never played in an ‘MLB’ game.
On December 7, 1967, he became part of the 'New York Yankees' and played two seasons, mostly as a 3B. He was also the 'Topps' Rookie All-Star Team.' The following year, he was replaced by Bobby Murcer, while Cox was put in the minor team again. Unfortunately, his knee injury stalled his career as a player.
Cox also played for the 'Cardenales de Lara' and 'Leones del Caracas’ clubs of the 'Venezuelan Winter League' from 1967 to 1970.
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The first team that Cox managed was the 'New York Yankees' ‘Minor League’ system in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, starting in 1971. He then managed the 'Cardenales' from 1974 to 1977.
In 1976, he managed the 'Minor League' team called the 'Syracuse Chiefs' for the 'Governors' Cup' championship. In his 6 successful years as a ‘Minor League’ manager, Cox's team recorded 459 wins and two league championships.
Before he became a ‘Major League’ manager, Cox was promoted to the position of the first-base coach of the 'Yankees' in 1977, then managed by Billy Martin. Following this, his team won its 21st 'World Series.'
On November 22, 1977, Cox was signed to the 'Atlanta Braves.' He then reshaped the team with new players such as first baseman-catcher Dale Murphy and Bob Horner. One of the main reasons the team hired him was to push the team back in form, especially after the team’s shameful league performances in the previous two seasons.
After the poor performances in 1978 and 1979, the team improved in 1980, winning its first game since 1974. Cox's selection Murphy eventually became the team's star player, with two 'National League Most Valuable Player’ awards and five 'Gold Gloves.' As a manager, Cox helped the 'Braves' register 266 victories in the regular season.
Despite delivering his best, Cox was fired in the 1981 season. This decision was heavily impacted by the players' strike that had taken place back then. The team's attendance had dropped, and the team owner, Ted Turner, thus decided to dismiss him.
Cox was then hired by the 'Toronto Blue Jays' in 1982. The team drastically improved under his remarkable 4-year stint as a manager and had impressive 'World Series' appearances. In 1985, during his final season with the 'Jays,' it topped the 'American League East.' Cox ended his tenure with the team after registering 355 wins in the regular season and was named the ‘Manager of the Year’ by both the 'American League' and the 'Major League.'
In October 1985, Ted Turner brought Cox back to the 'Braves' as the general manager. In that capacity, he selected players such as Tom Glavine, Steve Avery, John Smoltz, and David Justice. Unfortunately, the team could not perform well, and after 5 disastrous years, Cox fired Russ Nixon and became the manager for the rest of the season.
In the 1990 draft, Cox picked Chipper Jones for the following season, and the 'Braves' dramatically moved from the last position to the top. However, it lost to the 'Minnesota Twins' in the 1991 'World Series.' Cox was named the 'National League Manager of the Year.'
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Eventually, Cox's plans made the 'Braves' one of the best young franchises and farm systems in the history of baseball.
Cox was offered the option of retaining his position of the general manager or taking up the position of the head coach of the team. Cox chose the latter, while John Schuerholz replaced him as the general manager in October 1990. They became one of the most successful duos in ‘Major League’ history. The 'Braves' had already won five 'National League' championships (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, and 1999) and nine straight division titles.
On June 16, 1998, Cox broke Frank Selee's record of 1,004 club wins as a manager. By the end of the 2005 season, he had 2,092 club victories as a manager.
Cox’s next two 'National League Manager of the Year' awards came in 2004 and 2005, making him the first manager ever to win the award in consecutive years.
On September 23, 2009, the 'Braves' granted Cox a 1-year contract extension through 2010. He, however, declared he would be the team's advisor for the next 5 years, following his retirement in 2010.
On October 2, 2010, the 'Braves' honored Cox in a sold-out game at 'Turner Field.' At the end of his final game with the 'Braves' on October 11, 2010, he received a standing ovation, even though the team was eliminated by the 'San Francisco Giants' in the 'National League Division Series.’
Cox’s managerial stint with the 'Braves' ended with 1,883 wins in the regular season and 64 wins in the post-season period. His overall record as the ‘MLB’ manager in 4,505 games includes 2,504 wins and 2,001 losses in the regular season and 67 wins and 69 losses in the post-season period. Additionally, he also won one 'World Series' title, five 'National League' titles, three 'National League Western Division' titles, 10 'National League Eastern Division' titles, and one 'American League Eastern Division' title.
Following his retirement; the 'Braves' honored Cox by retiring the number 6.
Cox was inducted into the 'National Baseball Hall of Fame' in 2013.
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On July 5, 1992, ‘MLB’ umpire Bill Hohn had an argument with 'Braves' player Terry Pendleton, during a game against the 'Chicago Cubs.' This led to Cox's ejection.
In 1996, Cox had an argument with third-base umpire Tim Welke, ultimately getting ejected in the fifth inning of game 6 and thus becoming the first manager to be ejected from two 'World Series' games. Reportedly, Cox had previously questioned and criticized Welke's calls in the series.
On June 21, 2009, Hohn ejected Cox for arguing over balls and strikes.
With 161 ejections, Cox tops the list of the most-ejected 'Major League' managers.
In 1995, Cox was booked after his wife reported domestic violence. She claimed that he had punched her face, pulled her by the hair during an argument, and abused her. He was, however, released later that night, on a $1,000 bond.
Later that week, Cox and his wife called a press conference and revealed the whole incident had been a misunderstanding. Both of them denied any act of physical violence. His wife explained that her swollen red face that the police had noticed while arresting Cox had been caused by crying.
Cox and his wife described the incident as a simple argument that had eventually turned heated. However, his statements given to the police told a different story. He indeed admitted to pulling her by the hair and grabbing her forehead. He also admitted to being abusive.