Greetings Brave fans from lovely Atlanta. Yesterday I was privileged to attend the Braves Hall of Fame Luncheon to induct Bobby Cox. Luckily I sat next to former bullpen coach Bobby Dews as well. There were lots of great Braves fans at the table from all over the country and the chat was all about games we’d seen and what we thought of the team. By now you’ve probably read lots of reports of the luncheon. I would have posted earlier as well but for a flakey Internet connection and a site seeing trip I didn’t plan on MARTA. As it happened however I barely got back to the room in time to change and head to the Ted.
The best Cox stories of the of the day came from Chipper Jones and Cox himself. I haven’t them fully reported anywhere yet – but of course I haven’t seen everything – so I’ll pass them along as quickly as I can.
Chipper’s story was the same story John Smoltz told with some adult language details edited out. Essentially Bret Boone overslid at third base, Chipper tagged him out Hunter Wendelstedt saw it differently. Smoltz was backing up third and Wendelstedt thought Smoltzy bumped him but it was the ump who had inadvertently stepped on Smoltz’ foot. Smoltz was tossed, Bobby “waddled” (according to Chipper) out to argue. For those who may not know, Hunter Wendelstedt is the son of Harry Wendelstedt a well respected former umpire.
Bobby told Smoltz to go stand on the mound he wasn’t going anywhere and Smoltz – knowing who was Boss did just that. The argument continued then:
“All of a sudden there was a little break,” Jones said. “Bobby said this and I’ll never forget it: ‘Hunter, you wouldn’t make a pimple on your dad’s ass.’”
Of course Bobby was gone and Smoltz went as well. Cox added his own nuance to that tale during a post luncheon interview.
“I went to Ed Montague, the crew chief, and I said Ed, ‘You don’t understand what went on here, we don’t have any pitching out there and you guys run my pitcher and it was an accident,’” Cox said. “And he (Montague) said, ‘Bobby would you please tell Smoltzie to leave.’ I said ‘I’m not going to do it.’ ‘Please, Bobby.’ I said, ‘OK, we’ll get somebody out.’”
Back to Chipper’s version; Jones later left the game and was heading up some stairs when he found Cox sitting on a step. Cox asked how things were going and when he heard they were two runs up and it was going well, said: “Alright!” Then – according to Chipper – he turned and yelled up the tunnel, “Suck on that Hunter!.”
The Omni ballroom exploded at that as you might imagine. Cox smiled broadly and didn’t deny it.
During Bobby’s speech he talked about the big three pitchers he guided; Smoltz, Greg Maddux (Doggy) and Tom Glavine. He always felt confident and secure when they took the mound except for Maddux, It seems that they had pregame meetings where hitters went over pitchers and pitchers and coaches went over opposing hitters then the pitcher, catcher, Leo Mazone and Bobby would go over it again. Then it was game time, except when Maddux was pitching.
Maddux would stop by Bobby in his way to warm up and give him a series of scenarios about specific hitters in different situations and what he would do if it was before the 5th inning (give me two pitches then you can walk him if you want to) or after. Bobby said, “I couldn’t remember all of it, I always felt like my head would explode.” So it happened that in such a game in the 6th inning this specific hitter came to the plate in exactly that situation and Bobby couldn’t remember what Doggy’s instructions were. He turned to Leo and said, “I gotta go out there so I can get this right.”
Bobby trotted out to chat with Maddux and ask what he wanted to do. Maddux said like I told you give me two pitches then you can walk him if you want. “What are you planning to do?” Bobby asked. “I’m going to get him to pop him up to third.”Oh, okay.” Bobby trotted back to the dugout and was met by Mazone who asked, “What did he say.” “He said he’s going to throw two pitches and pop him up to third.” Of course on the second pitch the hitter popped up to third.
The room erupted again.
It was a great day at the Omni. This was my third induction and the biggest so far for the Braves with nearly 1000 attendees. Lots of money was raised for the Braves Foundation as well with the silent auctions and signed limited edition Bobby Cox memorabilia being sold. I’ll be back next year if possible. I recommend it to everyone, the experience is worth the travel. The game was wonderful as well. I’ll post that story later.