It's not easy to say goodbye.
Sometimes it’s best to say thanks for the fond memories and good times.
That’s what some Atlanta Braves fans want to tell departing manager Bobby Cox and they’re finding creative ways to do it. Tributes and weekend fun are scheduled throughout October in honor of the legendary skipper with Saturday being Bobby Cox appreciation day at Turner Field.
When super fan Scott Munn of Atlanta was a teenager in 1989, he had a chance encounter with Cox at Fulton County Stadium. After Cox signed the Toronto Blue Jays card that Munn just happened to have in his pocket, Munn told Cox that Atlanta needed him in the dugout. Cox, who was then general manager, said, “I’m thinking about it, son.”
Twenty years later, Munn again encountered Cox and reminded him of their meeting. Cox said to Munn, “I remember you. Well, thank you.”
Munn was quick to reply, “No, thank you. Thanks for all the great baseball over the years and for what you've done for the Braves and the city.”
Cox turned and smiled before walking into the clubhouse. He announced his retirement the following season.
That's when Munn started the Thanks Bobby movement in honor of his childhood hero. He not only runs a Facebook page that boasts more than 6,000 fans, but also designed t-shirts, bumper stickers, and a banner that he hangs over centerfield of every home game. The sentiment is short and sweet: Thanks, Bobby.
“I’ve seen those guys out there in the Chop House,” right fielder Jason Heyward told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ve got some really great fans.”
Mrs. Gertrude Finnegan, 94, of Woodstock, who watches every game on TV wearing her t-shirt, may be the oldest member of the Thanks Bobby movement. She's sad Cox is leaving but figures that he’s earned it.
“The thing that I like most about Bobby is the way that he treats his players as if they were his sons,” Finnegan said. “He treats them the way that he wants to be treated. He’s a fine fellow.”
Hadley Sheffield, a 19-year-old student from Tucker and Thanks Bobby member, has fond memories of his mother taking him to Fulton County Stadium before it was torn down.
“It’s going to be so depressing the day Bobby Cox leaves the field,” said Sheffield. “I know that I’ll have a tear in my eye.”
Finnegan’s and Sheffield’s pictures, along with countless others, are on the Thanks Bobby Facebook site. All pictures and well-wishes posted to the page prior to Nov. 11 are being compiled for a scrapbook for Cox. T-shirts are available at www.ThankBobby.com with a portion of the proceeds going toward The Homeless Pets Foundation, Cox’s chosen charity.
“I am really grateful for what those guys (the Thanks Bobby members) are doing,” Cox told the AJC.
In another unique tribute, Southern Belle Farms in McDonough constructed a seven-acre cornfield maze in Bobby Cox’s likeness. Visitors are invited to wander through the stalks every Saturday and Sunday through Nov. 14.
“I saw a picture of it and couldn’t believe how much it looked like me,” Cox added. “I’d really like to fly over it and get a better look.”
Bobby Cox appreciation days at the farm will be Oct. 16-17. Braves fans are invited to go through the Bobby Cox Tribute corn maze as well as experience the other farm activities for a special price.
“We’re offering an admission rate of buy one ticket for $12 and get the second for $6 (Bobby's No. 6) for Braves fans who come to the farm wearing Braves attire,” said Ansley Glenn of Southern Belle. “That covers all the activities at the farm including the maze, a petting zoo, hayrides, pig races and a pumpkin patch.”
Munn, who has attended every home game this season except one, like many other fans, thinks a World Series victory for Cox would be the ultimate tribute.
“If not, I feel so lucky to have been able to tell one of my favorite people exactly how I felt about them not once, but twice,” he said.
Bobby Cox Appreciation Day
10 a.m. -- 10 p.m. Saturday, 1 – 6 p.m. Sunday. $12 for first ticket, second $6 if in Braves attire. Southern Belle Farms, 1658 Turner Church Road, McDonough, 30252, 770.288.2582, www.southernbellefarm.com.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
The Braves players shared some of their feelings for Bobby Cox with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution prior to the Tuesday night game against the Florida Marlins.
Catcher Brian McCann
"I feel very lucky to grow in Atlanta and to be a Braves fan and to make it here and play for the greatest manager of all time. I’m very, very blessed.
You can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for this city and the Braves organization. I just so happy that I got to play for him and he’s helped me out so much with my career.
He shows up here everyday at noon in full uniform. The passion that he has for the game rubs off on every one of us. His passion is there if the score is 0 to 0 or 10 to 0. He’s on every pitch and he’s in the game until it’s done. As a player, you respect that. You’re going to have high points and low points, but he rubs off on all of us."
Right Fielder Jason Heyward
"Bobby Cox always puts his players first. I’m very glad that I got to be a part of this great tradition and organization. I got to grow up watching this organization and see a lot of different players and teams work for him. I've always been a Braves fan and I've always been a Bobby Cox fan."
Second Baseman Omar Infante
"Bobby Cox is a father figure to his players."
First Baseman Derrek Lee
"I know I am just coming in here at the end of the season, but I am honored to have been able to play for someone as legendary as Bobby Cox."
Pitcher Tim Hudson
"I can’t even begin to say what an honor it has been to take the mound for Bobby. I don’t know any other manager that is out there in cleats and roots on his players the way he does."
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