Braves unveil bronze statue of Cox

Longtime manager thrilled with honor at SunTrust Park

Braves unveil bronze statue of Cox

ATLANTA -- When Atlanta Braves fans think of Bobby Cox, they usually picture the Hall of Fame manager cheering on his guys from the top step of the dugout while leaning on the railing.

It's something Cox did for a quarter of a century, first at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, then at Turner Field, leading the Braves to a franchise-record 2,149 wins (his 2,504 career wins rank fourth most all-time), an unprecedented 14 consecutive division championships, five National League pennants and the 1995 World Series championship.

When Braves fans enter the first-base gate at SunTrust Park, they'll get the chance to catch a glimpse of the image of Cox in that pose, because on Thursday afternoon, the organization unveiled a bronze statue of him.

"It's beautiful. I can't thank the organization enough for having this wonderful day," said Cox, who compared the honor to being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. "When I was first inducted into the Hall of Fame, the first guy I ran into was Tommy Lasorda. Tommy congratulated me and said, 'Bobby, you've reached the top of the mountain. You can't go any higher.' Today, this statue is right next to that plaque on top of that mountain. I can't tell you how humbled I am today standing next to that statue."

It's the same humility Cox admitted to feeling when he found out that the Braves were commissioning a statue in his likeness. 

Cox shared the moment with special guests gathered, including his family (wife Pam, daughters Debbie, Connie, Shelly, Keisha, Kami, Skyla and sons Bobby Jr. and Randy); Braves employees; alumni, including Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, Braves Hall of Famer Dale Murphy and current radio broadcaster Mark Lemke; members of the current coaching staff, including manager Brian Snitker, bench coach Terry Pendleton and first-base coach Eddie Perez; and announcer Chip Caray.

"What a setting! Is this beautiful or what?" said Braves chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk. "Today the unveiling of a statue for one of our longtime heroes of this franchise, beloved No. 6 is the subject at hand. This statue is one more small way for us to say, 'Thank you for all that you have done for this franchise.'"

"It's another momentous day for the whole Braves organization, for Bobby Cox, who represents the best of the Braves organization," said chairman emeritus Bill Bartholomay.

The bronze statue was created by renowned sculptor Brian Hanlon, who is the official sculptor of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and has produced more than 300 pieces since 1986, including the statue of Hank Aaron unveiled at SunTrust Park on March 29. The Cox statue took about a year to create.

"I collected pictures from over the years. I was really trying to capture that quiet strength in the manager's personality. That one pose, it just seemed like that was him," said the Toms River, N.J.-based artist. "It's always my hope that these are educational for the fans. ... If they know who Bobby was and that inspires them, then we've done more than decorate the landscape."

Those in attendance felt the statued perfectly captured the Cox they played for.

"The position in the dugout, we're so accustomed to seeing that. It's a very fitting tribute," said Glavine, who spoke on behalf of all the players who suited up under Cox in his 25 seasons in Atlanta (1976-81, '90-2010). "Obviously, getting into Cooperstown is a big deal. Getting a statue is a pretty big deal. He's immortalized here now and for the organization, for the city, for the fans. That's going to be here forever so that's pretty special and a great honor and well-deserved. ... It was great to play for him and I'm happy for him."

"[Hanlon] did a pretty good job," said Pendleton. "I think the biggest thing of it all was him leaning on that wall. That's the thing that everybody will remember and it's engraved in all of our memories."

Cox was pleased with the likeness.

"It looks absolutely like me ... even the belly," Cox said, with a laugh. "[Hanlon's] the best. What he's done with Hank's and everybody else's.

"It's unbelievable. I'm so grateful to the organization and all the players we've had throughout the years. It's been a wonderful ride. This will be here forever. I won't, but this will. Having a statue made of you at the ballpark is really special. It's really a humbling experience."

Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com, based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.