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"Every manager you play for teaches you something different. Bobby was probably the first one I had that just totally loved his players. I mean, he'd get on you if he needed to, but he truly cared about his players and was really a father figure to a lot of guys."
Cox has agreed to serve as a consultant for the team after his retirement as manager.
"I could never just walk away and never come back to the clubhouse or watch the games," he said. "This way the transition will be great. I'll stay connected but I'll stay out of everybody's hair. I don't want to interfere with anything. They were nice enough to allow me to do some work in the minor leagues. I'm looking forward to that, going to Rome, going to Mississippi, going to Gwinnett and watching our guys and talking to them. At least it keeps you in."
He says his wife, Pam, hopes he'll have time for other interests outside of baseball.
"I would love to go see the Thrashers," he said of Atlanta's NHL team. "Pam is always talking about wanting to go but we never go. I don't have time to go this year, but next year I'll have all kinds of time."
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he and Cox talked about life away from baseball last season.
"He's one of the greatest -- not only managers, but people," Torre said. "It's what we all think about: What are we going to do if we don't do this? It's a lot of work, but you're doing something you love. And Bobby -- he's a Hall of Famer."
The Braves' worst-to-first finish in 1991 began their streak of division titles with Cox -- a run that excludes the 1994 strike-shortened season. Cox acknowledges he hasn't fully grasped the reality this will be his last season.
"I don't know if this is going to hit me until the last pitch is thrown, the last out," he said. "I don't know if you age different in baseball or public life or what, but it goes fast. I don't know. It just has passed so fast."
His impact is lasting.
"If you were going to make a Mount Rushmore of managers," the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Scioscia said, "Bobby's one of them."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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