On Sunday, the Nationals will honor legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox in a special pre-game ceremony. From 1991 to 2005, Cox won a record 14 straight division titles, five National League Pennants and the World Series in 1995. He will retire at the end of this season with 40 years of service to Major League Baseball.
Willie Harris, who played for the Atlanta Braves in 2007, had plenty of kind things to say about Cox, whom he described as a player's manager.
"He makes you feel a certain kind of way about yourself," Harris said. "He never gave up on me or any of his players. He was so positive. Even though you might second guess yourself, he never second guesses you. He goes out there and he believes in his guys and they know that. He knows how to bring the best out of his players."
Harris remembered battling through a long 7-for-40 slump during that 2007 season and receiving some encouraging words from his manager.
"Hey man, play your game. Swing the bat. They'll start falling," Cox said at the time and it meant a lot to the struggling Harris.
Cox was so confident that Harris would break out of the slump that he put him in the lead-off spot during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Harris went 6-for-6 with 6 RBI that day.
"You love playing for him," Harris continued. "You love being around him. He just lights up a room. He's the best. That's why everybody wants to play for him. And whatever he decides to do when he's done with baseball, I'm sure he'll be pretty good at it."
Cox collected his 2,500 career managerial win on Saturday afternoon against the Nationals. To date, his teams are 502 games over .500, which is the third-best margin in Major League history. He also has 196 career wins against the Nationals/Expos.