Braves of­fer prayers for Hall of Famer Cox fol­low­ing stroke

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL SPORTS - By Charles Odum

Hall of Famer man­ager Bobby Cox was able to ac­cept vis­i­tors in his At­lanta-area hos­pi­tal room on Wed­nes­day, one day af­ter the long­time Braves skip­per suf­fered a stroke.

Braves man­ager Brian Snitker and gen­eral man­ager Alex An­thopou­los were among those saw Cox.

“He’s hold­ing up great, as Bobby would,” Snitker said.

Snitker de­scribed his re­ac­tion to Cox’s stroke as “stunned.” Snitker, who worked as a third base coach for Cox, be­came emo­tional when talk­ing about his 77-year-old men­tor.

“He’s a strong man, he’s got a strong will,” Snitker said, adding, “right now, we’re all just pray­ing.”

First base­man Fred­die Freeman, who made his de­but in Cox’s 2010 farewell sea­son, said he felt a miss­ing pres­ence around the team.

“It’s tough,” Freeman said. “But we all know Bobby Cox. I don’t think a stroke is go­ing to keep him down. We’ll see him here real soon, hope­fully.”

Cox wore his Braves jersey while shout­ing “play ball!” be­fore the first pitch of Mon­day night’s home opener against the Chicago Cubs.

Even in re­tire­ment, Cox has re­mained a reg­u­lar around the Braves. His rou­tine in­cludes pregame cof­fee with Snitker.

“I said about 6:20 when I’m nor­mally in there drink­ing cof­fee with him, it’s go­ing to be a big void,” Snitker said.

Snitker said he vis­ited Cox in the hos­pi­tal “as much for me as for him. He’ll be fine.”

Cox’s family re­leased a state­ment on Wed­nes­day which thanked fans for their sup­port.

“We want to thank all of you who have sent their well wishes or said a prayer,” the state­ment said. “We know the power of Braves Coun­try and we hope those prayers and pos­i­tive thoughts con­tinue as Bobby heals. You don’t know how much your sup­port means to Bobby and to our family.”

The Braves also re­leased a state­ment that said, “We know no one stronger or more de­ter­mined than Bobby Cox. Our thoughts and prayers are with him as he re­cov­ers. We look forward to see­ing him soon and would like to thank the base­ball com­mu­nity for join­ing to­gether to sup­port our dear friend.”

Catcher Brian McCann de­scribed Cox as “one of the best hu­man be­ings any of us have ever met” and as an “icon.”

“He is the At­lanta Braves,” McCann said. “He’s the best.”

Freeman said he ex­pected Cox would be watch­ing Wed­nes­day night’s Cub­sBraves game.

“He’s go­ing to be keep­ing score,” Freeman said. “He’s go­ing to be yelling at us, for sure.”

Cox ranks fourth all-time with 2,504 wins in 29 years as a man­ager, in­clud­ing 25 years in two st­ints with the Braves and four years with Toronto.

Cox led the Braves to 14 straight di­vi­sion ti­tles from 1991-2005, in­clud­ing the 1995 World Se­ries title. It is the Braves’ only cham­pi­onship since mov­ing to At­lanta in 1966.

He be­gan his sec­ond stint with the Braves as gen­eral man­ager in 1985 when he was lured back to At­lanta by then-owner Ted Turner. As GM, Cox helped to build the team that en­joyed the long run of di­vi­sion ti­tles.

Cox re­turned to the dugout as man­ager in 1990. John Schuer­holz moved to At­lanta as gen­eral man­ager, form­ing the suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship with Cox.

His most cel­e­brated draft pick as GM was Chip­per Jones, the No. 1 overall se­lec­tion in 1990.

Jones spent his full ca­reer with the Braves and was in­ducted into the Base­ball Hall of Fame last year, join­ing Cox and for­mer team­mates Greg Mad­dux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

Jones used his Twit­ter ac­count to ex­press sup­port for Cox. “Prayers up this morn­ing for the Skip­per!!!” Jones wrote.

The Braves re­tired Cox’s No. 6 fol­low­ing his fi­nal sea­son. He en­tered the Hall of Fame in 2014 with Mad­dux and Glavine.

/ aP

For­mer At­lanta Braves man­ager and Base­ball Hall of Fame mem­ber Bobby Cox gives the com­mand to “play ball” be­fore the Braves’ home opener base­ball game against the Chicago Cubs in At­lanta on Mon­day.

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