Cox loved, respected and protected his players like no other manager of his era, if not any era. "When you look up 'player's manager' in the dictionary, Bobby's smiling face would be right there," former Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "I've never heard any player say anything bad about him. He's the reason why players who leave here want to come back." Former Braves pitcher John Smoltz said, "We would do anything to win for him, almost to a fault. Bobby would look at me and say, 'Can you give me another inning?' and even though I knew I didn't have another inning in me, I would always go out there because I just couldn't let Bobby down. And everyone on our team felt that way."
Former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone laughed when telling the story about a argument he and Cox had about the strategy decision involving former Braves pitcher Tom Glavine. "Bobby said, 'Leo, I don't think that's going to work,' and we went back and forth," Mazzone said. "Finally, I said, 'Tommy thinks it's right.' And Bobby said, 'OK, then.'"
When Cox once benched his center fielder, Andruw Jones, for not hustling, Jones nearly cried.
"I felt like I'd been benched by my father," Jones said, "I didn't want to let either down."
Torre managed his owner, in this case, George Steinbrenner, better than any other manager in baseball history. Steinbrenner was so adamant about winning and so demanding of everyone, especially his manager and players, but Torre was the absolute master of deflecting any negative attention away from his players, allowing them to just play. His calm hand during controversy helped the Yankees to win four World Series titles in five seasons (1996, '98, '99, 2000). No one could talk to the bombastic Steinbrenner, and reason with him, like Torre.
"I trusted Joe," Steinbrenner once said. "I knew, like me, that he only cared about winning."
But, like Cox, he also really cared about his players.
"Joe called me in his office once," former Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez said. "I was really struggling, and I thought he was going to yell at me. I thought he was going to bench me. Instead, he gave me a bottle of wine and the name of an Italian restaurant and said, 'I want you to go eat dinner at this place tonight. Stop worrying. Just enjoy yourself.' So I did. And the next day, I started hitting again. That was Joe. He never panicked."
Tony, Bobby and Joe. When it came to managers, you have to use only their first names. And now the three of them -- three of the best ever -- are going into the Hall of Fame together.