Known as the consummate "players" manager, Bobby Cox treated everyone with respect and dignity. He spent 29 seasons as a Major League skipper, including 25 seasons in two stints at the helm of the Braves. His 2,504 wins rank fourth all-time and include a franchise-best 2,149 victories with the Braves and 355 with the Toronto Blue Jays. Cox posted an overall career record of 2,504-2001-3 (.556). The 2010 campaign marked his final season on the bench, as Atlanta went 91-71 and claimed the National League's Wild Card Championship. Cox won his 2,500th game on September 25, 2010, at Washington. The 2010 campaign was Cox's 15th with 90 or more wins, tying him for second all-time in 90-win seasons with Hall of Fame skipper Joe McCarthy (15) and putting him one behind the legendary John McGraw (16). Cox and McCarthy are the only managers in Major League history to compile six 100-win seasons. On June 8, 2009, Cox posted his 2,000th Braves victory, making him just the fourth skipper in big-league history to claim 2,000 wins with one team, joining Connie Mack (Athletics), John McGraw (Giants) and Walter Alston (Dodgers). On September 29, 2004, in the season's final home game, Cox earned his 2,000th career victory with a 6-4 decision over the New York Mets. He became just the ninth skipper in big-league history to reach that lofty milestone. Cox won 15 division crowns in his career, including 14 straight in Atlanta that led to five pennants (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999) and one World Championship (1995). He had a string of 15 consecutive winning seasons from 1991 to 2005, tying him with Al Lopez and Earl Weaver for third place all-time behind Joe McCarthy (20) and Sparky Anderson (17) for consecutive winning campaigns. Cox was voted the Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America four times (1985 with Toronto and 1991, 2004 and 2005 with Atlanta). The Sporting News, in a poll of his peers, honored Cox as the league's top skipper seven times with the Braves and eight times overall. No other manager has won the Sporting News award more than three times since the magazine started the balloting in 1936. In 1991 the Associated Press named him Major League Manager of the Year, as he became the first manager to earn that honor in both leagues, having also won it while with the Blue Jays in 1985. Cox brought the city of Atlanta its first major professional sports championship in 1995 when the Braves defeated the Cleveland Indians, four games to two, in the World Series. The victory also marked the first time a franchise had won a World Series in three different cities. Cox managed the Braves from 1978 to '81, compiling a 266-323 record and laying the groundwork for the club's National League West title in 1982. He began a four-year tenure as Toronto's manager in 1982, lifting a habitual last-place team to within one game of attaining a World Series berth in 1985. Cox returned to the Braves as general manager in October 1985 and oversaw a farm system which set the foundation for great success. He added the field managing responsibilities on June 22, 1990, then devoted all his time to those duties when the Braves named John Schuerholz as General Manager in October of that year. When Braves owner Ted Turner fired Cox in 1981, Turner was asked at the press conference who was likely to be the next manager. "It would be Bobby Cox if I hadn't just fired him," Turner said. "We need someone like him around here." Cox was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in August 2011.
Murphy was the Braves' No. 1 (and fifth overall) draft pick in 1974. Originally signed as a catcher, Murphy was moved to the outfield by Bobby Cox in 1980. The move helped as Murphy averaged just under 30 HRs and just under 90 RBIs from 1980 to 1990. During those 11 years, Murphy won back-to-back league MVP awards in 1982 & 1983, appeared in seven All-Star games, leading all players in votes in 1985, won five Gold Gloves, and appeared in 740 consecutive games from September 26, 1981 through July 8, 1986. Murphy's 15 -year career with the Braves came to an end on August 4, 1990, when he was traded to Philadelphia. The Braves received Jeff Parrett, Jim Vatcher, and Victor Rosario for Murphy and Tommy Greene. Murphy played in only 18 games with Philadelphia in 1992 due to knee problems and appeared in 26 games for the Colorado Rockies in 1993 before retiring. Murphy holds 13 Atlanta franchise records including most home runs (371), RBIs (1,143), hits (1,901), runs (1,103), and games (1,926). Inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in August of 2000.
Spahn, inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, signed his first contract out of high school with the Braves for $150. He debuted for the Braves in 1942 and after ending the season in the minors, he enlisted in the Army. Spahn returned to the Braves in 1946 and began to pitch his way into the record books, becoming the winningest left-hander in baseball and fifth all-time with 363 total victories. He is also sixth all-time in shutouts and eighth all-time in innings pitched. Spahn won the Cy Young in 1957 while leading the league in victories and complete games. He was runner-up three times: in 1958, 1960, and 1961. Spahn won 20 or more games 13 times, a National League record, eight of those years he led the league in wins. He was an N.L. All-Star 14 times, led the league three times in ERA, nine times in complete games, four times in innings pitched, four times in strikeouts, and four times in shutouts. Spahn's eight seasons leading the league in wins and nine seasons leading in complete games are both major league records. His streaks of five consecutive seasons (1957- 1961) leading the league in wins along with seven consecutive years (1957-1963) leading in complete games are both major league records. Spahn threw two no-hitters in his career. His first was on September 16, 1960, at the age of 39 against Philadelphia. He allowed only two base runners in the 4-0 victory. The second no-hitter was a 1-0 victory over San Francisco on April 28, 1961. Spahn holds or shares nine franchise records including: most games started (635), complete games (374), innings pitched (5,046), games won (356), 20-win seasons, and shutouts (63). Inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in August of 1999.
Greg Maddux became the most dominant pitcher in baseball during his 11 seasons with the Braves from 1993 to 2003. On the heels of winning his first Cy Young Award in 1992 with the Chicago Cubs, Maddux signed with the Braves as a free agent and proceeded to win three more Cy Young awards in a row. With Atlanta, Maddux led the National League in ERA four times (1993, 1994, 1995 and 1998) and in wins twice (1994 and 1995). His franchise-record 1.56 ERA during the 1994 season was the second-lowest in the Major Leagues since Bob Gibson's 1.12 mark in 1968, the last year of the elevated pitcher's mound. Maddux had arguably his finest season in 1995, posting a 19-2 record with a 1.63 ERA while leading the league with 209.2 innings pitched, 10 complete games and three shutouts and helping the Braves win the World Series. Maddux finished fifth, second and fourth in Cy Young Award voting in 1996, 1997 and 1998. On the Braves' career lists, Maddux ranks second in ERA (2.63), fifth in strikeouts (1,828), sixth in wins (194) and 10th in shutouts (21). The diminutive right-hander known as "Mad Dog" featured pinpoint control and uncanny late movement on his fastball. After leaving Atlanta, Maddux had a second stint with the Cubs and subsequently played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. He won 15 or more games for 17 consecutive seasons (1988-2004) -- the only pitcher in Major League history to do so. Upon his retirement, Maddux ranked eighth all-time with 355 wins and 10th with 3,371 strikeouts. He won arecord 18 Gold Gloves, including 10 with the Braves. He was an eight-time All-Star and the NL starting pitcher in 1994, 1997 and 1998. Maddux was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in July 2009. At the induction ceremony, manager Bobby Cox remarked: "I get asked all the time was he the best pitcher I ever saw? Was he the smartest pitcher I ever saw? The most competitive I ever saw? The best teammate I ever saw? The answer is yes to all of those."
Phil Niekro, inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the summer of 1997, was signed as a free agent in 1958, but didn't see his first major league action until 1964 in Milwaukee, starting out as a reliever. He saw limited playing time until 1967 when he became a permanent fixture on the roster through 1983. Niekro had 14 straight years with 10 or more wins until the strike shortened year of '81. He posted three 20 plus win seasons with the Braves, with a career high of 23 in 1969, and logged over 300 innings four times, with a career high of 342 innings in 1979. From 1974- 80, he led the league in innings four times and was never out of the top five. In '73 he pitched a no-hitter to beat San Diego, 9-0, on August 5th at Atlanta Stadium. He became the oldest pitcher to record a shutout (46) with a four-hit , 8-0 victory on October 6, 1985, against Toronto as a Yankee. During his 24-year career, Niekro made five All-Star appearances, four as a Brave, won five Gold Gloves, and won 318 games, ranking him 14th all-time. He is fifth all-time in innings pitched and eigth all-time in strikeouts. Niekro holds or shares 14 Atlanta career pitching records including: most games (689), complete games (226), innings pitched (4,533), games won (266), most strikeouts (2,855), most shutouts (43), and most hits (4,136). Inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in August of 1999.
Mathews, inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978, was the only Brave in franchise history to play for the team on the major league level in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. He was signed in 1949 by Johnny Moore at the age of 17 and by the age of 20 became the Braves' regular third baseman. During his Hall of Fame career spanning 17 years, Mathews appeared in three World Series, was a nine-time National League All- Star, and led the majors in home runs in '53 with 47 and '59 with 46. He twice finished second in the National League MVP voting, in 1953 to Roy Campanella and in 1959 to Ernie Banks. Mathews averaged slightly over 30 home runs per season during his career, 14 times he hit 20 home runs or more, 10 times he hit 30 or more, and four times he hit 40 or more. His franchise records include: most RBIs in a season since 1900 (135 in 1953), tied for most consecutive games with an RBI ( 8 in 1954), most career walks (1,444), most home runs on the road ( 30 in 1953), and tied with Hank Aaron for most home runs in a season with 47. The Braves' traded Mathews to Houston in 1967 where he reached the 500 home run level. He was subsequently traded to the Detroit Tigers late in the year to help with the pennant chase and appeared in his third World Series. Eddie finished his playing career with Detroit in 1968. Mathews returned to Atlanta in 1971 as a coach under Luman Harris and replaced him as manager in 1972. He managed into the 1974 season accumulating a record of 149-161-1 in 311 games for a .481 winning percentage. In his only full season as manager in 1973, the Braves placed fifth with a record of 76-85-1. Inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in August of 1999. He passed away February 18, 2001.
Aaron, the greatest home run hitter of all time, was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame in January of 1982. He missed by nine votes being the first unanimous choice ever in the voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Aaron received 406 of a possible 415 votes for a percentage of .978. Aaron and Frank Robinson were inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., on August 1, 1982. In February of 2000, Aaron replaced the late Pee Wee Reese on the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee.
In his 23-year Major League career, Aaron rewrote baseball's hitting record book. He holds more Major League batting records than any other player in the game's history. Among his records are some truly amazing ones, including Most Runs Batted In, Lifetime, 2,297; Most Extra-Base Hits, Lifetime, 1,477; Most Total Bases, Lifetime, 6,856; and, of course, Most Home Runs, Lifetime, 755. Aaron also ranks second on the all-time list in at-bats (12,364) and runs (2,174, tied with Babe Ruth), third in games (3,298) and hits (3,771), ninth in doubles (624), 11th in singles (2,294) and tied for 14th in years of service (23). His most famous home run came in Atlanta on April 8, 1974, when he hit his 715th, breaking Babe Ruth's seemingly untouchable record. He did it before a sellout crowd of 53,775 at Atlanta Stadium. The pitch came in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Los Angeles Dodgers leading 3-1, with a 1-0 count and Darrell Evans waiting on first. Al Downing threw a fastball at 9:07 p.m. that Hank sent over the left field fence. Reliever Tom House caught the ball in the Braves' bullpen and brought it to Aaron in the home plate celebration.
On May 17, 1970, Hank singled at Cincinnati to become the first player to compile both 3,000 career hits and more than 500 homers. He joined the 30-30 club (30 HRs and 30 SBs in the same season) in 1963. Aaron played in the Major League All-Star Game 24 times, including the years 1959-61 when two games were played. He was honored as the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1957 and named Player of the Year by Sporting News in 1956 and 1963. He played 21 seasons with the Braves before being traded to Milwaukee for outfielder Dave May and minor leaguer Roger Alexander at the end of 1974. Aaron retired as a player two years later. Aaron was first scouted by Dewey Griggs of the Milwaukee Braves during an Indianapolis Clowns tryout. The Braves eventually were able to strike a deal and beat out the Giants for Aaron's services. In 1952 he was assigned to the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, team of the Northern League. He was the unanimous choice for the Northern League's Rookie of the Year while only playing in 87 games (.336, 9 HR, 61 RBI, 116 hits and 89 runs). In 1953 he was promoted to the Jacksonville Tars, where he became the first African-American player in the South Atlantic League. Aaron won the batting title (.362) and led the league in RBI (125), runs (115), hits (208) and finished second in home runs (22) and earned the league's MVP award.
He began his Major League career in 1954 when a spring training injury forced Bobby Thompson out of the Braves' lineup. In his debut he struck out twice, grounded out, hit into a double play and fouled out. Aaron hit his first home run off Vic Raschi on April 23, 1954. He became the second youngest player to win a batting title (.328) in 1956 and the second youngest to collect his 1,000th hit, off Sandy Koufax in 1959. On June 12, 1967, Aaron recorded his 2,500th hit and achieved his 3,000th hit on May 17, 1970. His 2,000th RBI came on July 3, 1972.
During his career, Aaron had a 20-year string of 20 or more home runs. After turning 35, he hit 245 home runs and from the ages 35 to 39 he hit at least 34 home runs a year. Over his 23-year Major League career, he averaged just 63 strikeouts a year, with his highest strikeout total being 97 in 1967. He hit .300 or better in 14 seasons, won the NL home run crown three times and tied for a fourth, led the league in RBI four times and won three Gold Gloves.
Aaron hit his 755 home runs off 310 different pitchers, including 12 Hall of Famers. He hit the most off of Hall of Famer Don Drysdale (17), the most in the month of July (152), the most against the Cincinnati Reds (97) and the most in the first inning (124). Aaron hit 400 solo home runs and hit seven of his 755 as a second baseman and had three pinch-hit home runs. He had only one three home run game, at San Francisco on June 21, 1959.
Tom Glavine won 305 regular-season games in his 22-year Major League career. But it was his eight innings of one-hit, shutout baseball in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series that accounted for his most-significant victory. The Braves won 1-0 to capture the first championship in Atlanta history, and Glavine was named the series Most Valuable Player. The left-hander arrived in Atlanta in 1987 and, after four years of growing pains, became a consistent big-time winner. Glavine won 20 or more games each year from 1991 to 1993 and earned the first of his two Cy Young awards in 1991, going 20-11 with a 2.55 ERA. His second Cy Young came in 1998 on the strength of a 20-6 record and a 2.47 ERA. He finished second for the award in 1992 and 2000 and third in 1993 and 1995. From 1993 to 1999, the Braves featured arguably the game's top starting rotation - led by Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. Over that seven-year stretch, Atlanta won six division titles and the National League Championship Series in 1995, 1996 and 1999 in addition to the 1995 World Series. Glavine also pitched in two other Fall Classics - in 1991 and 1992. Following the 2002 season, Glavine signed as a free agent with the New York Mets. He won his 300th game on August 5, 2007, with an 8-3 verdict over the Chicago Cubs, becoming the 23rd pitcher and just the sixth left-hander to reach that plateau. Glavine returned to Atlanta in 2008 before ultimately retiring after the 2009 season. On the Braves' career lists, Glavine ranks fourth in strikeouts (2,091), fourth in wins (244) and tied for eighth in shutouts (22). He had five 20-win seasons, leading the NL or tying for the lead each time. Glavine's lifetime ledger was 305-203 with a 3.54 ERA, and his 682 games started ranked 12th on baseball's all-time list when he retired. Possessing excellent control, the 10-time All-Star was a master at mixing up the speed of his pitches and locating them on - or just off - the corners of the strike zone. Glavine was a career .186 batter and won four Silver Slugger Awards.
- In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American man to play in the Major Leagues.
- Number retired throughout baseball in 1997.
- Played for Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947-56.
From his Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque:
"Leading NL batter in 1949. Holds fielding mark for second baseman playing in 150 or more games with .992. Led NL in stolen bases in 1947 and 1949. Most Valuable Player in 1949. Lifetime batting average .311. Joint record holder for most double plays by second baseman, 137 in 1951. Led second baseman in double plays 1949-50-51-52."