No sports fan will ever forget the first game they attended. In this incident, I remember my first baseball game: Mike Piazza’s first game as a New York Met on May 23, 1998. I remember every part of the game: the weather, the atmosphere, and the food. As a Mets fan for life, I’ve felt every emotion one fan can ever feel. The feelings of disappointment, excitement, over-hyped players and injury.
When I was growing up, there were two rules my mother always told me. One of them was to treat others how you’d like to be treated. The other rule was always hate the Atlanta Braves.
At the time, the Atlanta Braves, led by manager Bobby Cox, were a powerhouse in the National League East. Of course Cox had players we had to hate; players like Larry “Chipper” Jones, Andruw Jones, Walt Weiss, Ryan Klesko, John Smoltz and of course John Rocker. You could even slide Terry Mulhollhand in there somewhere.
However, the hatred for Cox and the Braves has loosened up since those glory days, as the Philadelphia Phillies have emerged as the new powerhouse of the NL East.
The hatred transformed into appreciation.
Every time I turned on a Mets game when they were playing Atlanta, I would always see the long old look for Bobby Cox. A pioneer of the game of baseball, and somebody who truly loved the game.
Of course, I loved it when I saw Cox getting ejected for making a small mistake by an umpire look like a violation of the First Amendment. I will never forget the true emotions this man showed for the game of baseball and his players. He might have not been the nicest looking guy out on the field, but he certainly knew what was right and what was wrong with his ball club.
He’s the father of one of the greatest three-man rotations in Major League Baseball history: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Smoltz. He once had a superstar patrolling center field by the name of Andruw Jones. He had a cocky third baseman named Chipper Jones, who’s hated more by Mets fans then any other person. (Unless you count Oliver Perez or Bobby Bonilla.)
The purpose of me writing this article is to show how one man truly changed the game of baseball from a fans' perspective. He changed a city and a franchise.
Unlike other articles, I’m not here to just throw statistics at the reader. We know Bobby Cox will be in the Hall of Fame five years from now. We know he has the fourth-most wins by a manager in the history of baseball. We know he’s been thrown out of more games than any other manager in the game. The reason why: because he cared that much about a child’s game.
As I sit here in my college dorm room, procrastinating other essays that seem more important to my life, I want to extend a toast out to every baseball fan. This toast is to you Bobby Cox, for being a manager that other managers wish they were. For being the standing figure of a franchise. For being a manager every player would have loved to play for. A manager with a true hardball knowledge and appreciation for the game.
I believe a part of every baseball fans heart has died today. The part of no more ejections from No. 6 in the Red and Blue. The end of “Bobby Cox Sucks” chants at Citi Field. The end of an era and a dream.