April 3, 2012
No one person resonates with Atlanta Braves fans more than Bobby Cox and it showed Tuesday. When the former manager and now special assistant to the general manager was announced to the record crowd at Coolray Field, the roar grabbed my attention.
First, I thought, 'What?' Then, I thought, 'Bobby.' (Only in my mind do I call him that, I have no standing with the longtime skipper). And there he was, wearing a uniform for a game for the first time since his playoff lost to the future World Series champions San Francisco Giants two seasons ago. He trotted out to the first baseline and fans rose around the Gwinnett Braves ballpark.
“That was very nice of them, I am glad they all came out and I think they had fun,” Cox said after Tuesday's rain-shortened game.
The ovation rose and fell during the player introductions that followed, but never returned to the levels apparently reserved for Cox alone.
In the game, Cox nearly picked up another, albeit unofficial win, until a two-our rally sparked by a Michael Bourn double gave the Atlanta Braves a lead over Cox's Future Stars team.
Cox managed aggressively, stealing four bases, including third and scoring a run on the only caught-stealing of the night. He didn't bunt or hit-and-run. After all, what did he have to lose?
“It was fun. It was a fun ballgame,” he said. “The fans got a great show, I think. Unfortunately, the rain came and we didn't get to finish the ballgame. Other than that it worked out well. It is something that, maybe, can become a tradition.”
Current Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez agreed Tuesday was a good time.
“(Gwinnett Braves General manager) North (Johnson) and his staff here in Gwinnett did a great job of making us feel comfortable,” Gonzalez said. “If they asked us to do it again next year, we would love to do it.”
Plus it got Cox to finally put his uniform on.
“It felt good to get the uni on again and have a ballgame,” said Cox, who planned to sleep a little late Wednesday. “I can stay home and sleep in and Fredi will be up at 6 a.m. and be headed for the ballpark.