Caray: Reflecting on Braves’ Hall of Fame trio
FOXSportsSouth.com checks in with play-by-play announcer Chip Caray to discuss the latest surrounding the Braves.
FOXSPORTSSOUTH.COM: Chip, certainly a big weekend for the Braves with Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox being enshrined in the Hall of Fame. As someone who has been around this franchise for nearly 10 years now, what do you believe it means to this fan base and the organization?
CC: It’s sort of the icing on the cake and more proof of the excellence that the Braves organization has represented since 1991.
Three guys going into the Hall of Fame in the same class that played on the same teams in so many of those years.
For Bobby Cox, it’s his just reward after more than 2,000 wins as the Braves manager alone. He’s remarkable.
All three guys are incredibly deserving. They’re deserving as Hall of Fame people, Hall of Fame representatives of the game and the Braves. And there are even more to come. Chipper Jones is going to go in at some point; John Smoltz has an excellent chance and I think, frankly, John Schuerholz should be as well.
It’s just more proof of what Braves fans already knew and hopefully realized, that from 1991-2005, the glory year of this franchise, with Hall of Fame players, day-in and day-out stepping on the field, representing this team and franchise is something that is going to be very, very difficult to see repeated.
FSS.COM: With Maddux, you were around for his second stint in Chicago. What do you remember about him in that point in his career?
CC: He was toward the end of his career, but still a very capable pitcher, a back-end of the rotation kind of guy, because they had Kerry Wood, they had Mark Prior, they had Carlos Zambrano, they had Matt Clement, they had guys like that. He was a great mentor to all of those guys.
He won his 300th game against the Giants out in San Francisco, which was a crowning achievement. For all his great glories that he had with the Braves and in Atlanta, it’s kind of fitting that the man that won his first Cy Young with the Cubs and came up with the Cubs and really became a star with the Cubs achieved that milestone with the Cubs too.
FSS.COM: When it comes to Glavine, you have a unique perspective working in the broadcast booth with him. It was recently written by Joe Posnanski that Glavine’s real strength was his mind and how he could wage a battle of wits with hitters. Did you get that sense in watching him up close?
CC: For Tom it was a game. He was very good at playing that game.
That’s the ultimate joy of baseball: its’ a cat-and-mouse game. Pitcher vs. hitter; pitcher vs. base runner, base runner vs. catcher, manager vs. manager. Tom was a guy, as a kind he could throw the ball real hard, but couldn’t control it, so he had to learn how to pitch.
To learn how to pitch, you ultimately have to use your mind to create ways to navigate your way through a lineup. There weren’t many better at Tom at doing that.
As he got older — proof of that was when he got to New York and he worked with Rick Peterson — he was able to change the way he pitched and become even more successful. By that, I mean that he was able to throw his change-up inside to right-handed hitters. That was a huge, huge weapon for him over his last few years with the Mets and I think what really helped him get over the hump and get to the 300-win total.
FSS.COM: Finally with Bobby Cox, he was the constant through that run of division titles. What impact do you believe he continues to have on the franchise four years after his retirement?
CC: I just think he’s kind of a steady hand, a guiding force. The principles that Bobby Cox set down as the skipper of the franchise: Never wear your sunglasses on top of your hat … you wear your uniform the right way … you play the game the right way … you adhere yourselves as a professional … you sign up for 162 games, you work hard every single day.
Those are things that Bobby Cox stood for.
Remember when Bobby Cox came back as the general manager, that was his five-year plan, was they were going to build around pitching. He was wrong, they were off by one year, it took six. But that worked. I think that carries on to this day.
Bobby Cox is hugely influential on Fredi Gonzalez. They manage the game in a lot of the same ways, and he was a protege of Bobby’s and was on staff with him here, and has been able to carry on many of the same traditions and mannerisms and managerial styles Bobby Cox had and has done so in his own way with his own twist, and I think that’s wonderful too.
Maybe the best way to show how Bobby Cox is thought of, is that every time he comes into the clubhouse or the dugout, everybody wants to shake his hand and say hello. Everybody.
So many of his former players speak so glowingly about him, even those that didn’t play a long time for him, all rave about the way he handled a clubhouse and the way he handled a team and people. To me, that’s the ultimately compliment and that’s why I think of him as a Hall of Fame person first before I think of him as a Hall of Fame manager.