Bobby Cox’s Unbreakable Record

This year’s Hall of Fame class includes all-time greats, but the only man whose achievement will stand forever is the most ejected manager ever.

Of all the records held by Major League Baseball’s 2014 Hall of Fame class, Bobby Cox’s 158 ejections will stand the longest. Greg Maddux has four straight Cy Young Awards (a record he shares with Randy Johnson) and Joe Torre has 84 career postseason wins. Those are amazing feats, but they’re a product of excellence, not personality. Some as-yet-unheard-of future Hall of Famer will break those records, but no one will ever recapture the glory of Cox’s angry old man routine. The man was thrown out of a almost a full season worth of games. No one is as cantankerous as Cox.

Part of the reason Cox’s record will never fall is that, when it comes to ejections, baseball has changed at its core. Thank to instant replay there are simply fewer things for a manager to argue about. Close play at first? These days a manager cordially walks to the umpire, looks back to the dugout and logs his complaint. In the old days, he would sprint out to the blind bastard and kick dirt on his shoes. We’ve entered an age of civility – too bad.

Odds are, when Cox is inducted into this Hall this weekend, along with Maddux, Torre, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Tony La Russa, no one will mention his greatest achievement. He’ll probably be glad of that. In 2007 when Cox was ejected for the 132nd time, breaking the record held by world-class racist John McGraw, Chipper Jones said his skipper was ashamed. Not too ashamed to rack up a few dozen more before retiring though. So with apologies to the skipper, we we will now celebrate his legendary grumpiness with some of his greatest hits.

The time he threw a helmet in the World Series: It’s not often a manager is booted in a World Series game. Here’s Cox losing his temper in the 1992 Fall Classic and chucking a helmet on to the field. Umps never let that kind of thing fly. 

When he was right: Maybe Cox was right other times he argued with umpires, but it’s hard to imagine him ever being more right than on this bizarre sequence against the Dodgers. Watch yourself as two umpires call two Dodgers out and then seem to reverse themselves. As Vin Scully says, “That’s really sad.”

Protecting his players: Cox was known as manager who protected his players. So, when a play like Marquis Grissom was about to be ejected, the skipper would get between him and the ump and go down in flames himself. Watch him do just that in the 1996 World Series.

His final ejection: This is the 158th ejection of Bobby Cox’ career, the third to come in the postseason and ultimately, the last time he, as the players say, “got run.” A routine argument about a close out at first turns ejection-worthy when, well, we’re not sure because the camera was showing a replay. What we do know is that this is precisely the type of ejection instant replay has removed from the game forever.

Cox showed up Turner field a few years back to throw out the first pitch and shake hands and do all the things a retired legendary manager does. He was thrown out of the game after the first pitch. There is instant replay and there is also tradition.