Cox will be inducted July 28 at Cooperstown, N.Y., in a ceremony expected to have a distinct Braves flavor as pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine will likely be enshrined with their former manager.
“They say your life changes when you get elected to the Hall of Fame, and it has,” Cox said after the announcement. “I’ve got goosebumps. It’s the greatest honor we could ever have. Hopefully two guys who helped get me to the Hall of Fame, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, will be inducted as well.”
Cox,Tony La Russa and Joe Torre are among the top five on the all-time major league wins list. Cox is fourth with 2,504 wins including a franchise-record 2,149 with the Braves, whom he managed to a record 14 consecutive division titles through 2005. His Braves won five National League championships and the 2005 World Series.
“The 16 years I spent with him were the greatest years of my life, and the only reason was Bobby Cox,” said Leo Mazzone, his longtime Braves pitching coach. “It’s only fitting that he goes in with those guys. It’s the most perfect scenario you could possibly imagine, except that Smoltzy has to wait another year to go in.”
John Smoltz, the other of the Braves’ vaunted Big Three starters, retired a year after Maddux and Glavine. There’s a five-year waiting period for Hall of Fame eligibility, but it’s reduced to six months for those who retire at 65 or older.
Cox, 72, retired after the 2010 season, his 29th as a manager including 25 in two stints with the Braves. Candidates from baseball’s Expansion Era are considered by the Veterans Committee every three years.
“(Cox) was a ferocious competitor, in the highest-class way,” La Russa said. “He would try everything to beat you.”
Maddux and Glavine, who each won more than 300 games and multiple Cy Young Awards, were Braves teammates for a decade through 2002, and are considered locks for election in their first year of Hall of Fame eligibility on the writers’ ballot. Those results will be announced Jan. 8.
The AJC’s David O’Brien contributed to this report.
In fact, he wrote damned near all of it.