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  • Billy Cox

    Biily Cox

    Born: August 29, 1919, Newport, PA
    Died: March 30, 1978, Harrisburg, PA, Age 58,---d. cancer

    Positions: Third Baseman, Shortstop and Second Baseman
    Bats: Right, Throws: Right
    5' 10", 150 lb.

    Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1940. (All Transactions)
    Debut: September 20, 1941
    Teams (by GP): Dodgers/Pirates/Orioles 1941-1955
    High School: Newport (Newport, PA)
    Final Game: June 11, 1955
    Buried: Newport Cemetery, Newport, PA

    BB Reference---Wikipedia
    William Richard Cox (August 29, 1919, in Newport, Pennsylvania – March 30, 1978, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) was a Major League Baseball third baseman.

    Signed as an amateur free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates 1940, Cox made his Major League Baseball debut with the Pirates on September 20, 1941, and appeared in his final game on June 11, 1955.

    Cox served in the military during World War II. Cox was the third baseman of a stellar Brooklyn Dodgers infield in the 1950s that included Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, and Pee Wee Reese. The book Carl Erskine's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout: Extra Innings (2004) includes short stories from the former Dodger pitcher. Cox is prominent in many of them.

    Billy is also featured in Roger Kahn's 1971 book The Boys of Summer, which tells the stories of the Brooklyn Dodgers from the early 1950s and then catches up with them later in life.

    The youth baseball park on North Second Street in Newport, PA, is named after Billy Cox, and hosts Cal Ripken Division baseball games (Babe Ruth baseball's equivalent to Little League) as well as an annual tournament.

    Sporting News' obituary, April 15, 1978, pp.53.


    New York Times' obituary, April 1, 1978, pp. 24.


    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 03-31-2011, 01:32 PM.

  • #2
    I saw Brooks Robinson, Graig Nettles, Clete Boyer and the best fielders of the last 60 years, but Cox was the best.

    You had to see him to appreciate what he could do.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Squeeze Play View Post
      I saw Brooks Robinson, Graig Nettles, Clete Boyer and the best fielders of the last 60 years, but Cox was the best.

      You had to see him to appreciate what he could do.
      I never saw Cox- he was done just as I was starting to follow baseball closely- 54-55. But, the testimony of his peers is universal. He was the best of his time. Great reactions, more quickness and speed than other 3Bers- soft hands, great arm. He had it all. I would think that in any reasonable discussion, he would be included in the top 10 defensive 3Bers of all time- perhaps higher.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BigRon View Post
        I never saw Cox- he was done just as I was starting to follow baseball closely- 54-55. But, the testimony of his peers is universal. He was the best of his time. Great reactions, more quickness and speed than other 3Bers- soft hands, great arm. He had it all. I would think that in any reasonable discussion, he would be included in the top 10 defensive 3Bers of all time- perhaps higher.
        For someone who never saw Cox, you sure got it right. He was like a cat...lightning reflexes, great hands and a cannon for an arm. His amazing fielding in the '53 Series caused Stengel to say, "he's not a third baseman...he's a &*%[email protected] acrobat!"

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        • #5
          Cox used to remove his glove between every pitch, slipping it back on as the pitcher kicked his leg. Simply the best!
          you can take the Dodgers out of Brooklyn, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the DODGERS
          http://brooklyndodgermemories.freeforums.org/

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          • #6
            The detail I remember reading about Cox (from Kahn) was his dinky little glove.

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            • #7
              I find that detail interesting. Brooks Robinson and Bill Mazeroski also opted for smaller sized gloves. They both claimed they preferred the better control it gave them over the larger sizes that were then available.

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              • #8
                I mentioned this elsewhere, but my late mother was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. She hadn't read The Boys of Summer and told me that Cox used to do what Pee Wee Reese lovingly complained about in Roger Kahn's book: when a ball was hit to him, Cox would look at it, then throw and just nip the runner--which he could do because he had a cannon. She wasn't certain but she was pretty sure that Red, Connie, or Vin would say, "He checks it to see if it's broken, and throws to first for the out."

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael Green
                  Stengel once said of him, "That isn't a third baseman. That's a #$%@*&@ acrobat." That's good enough for me.

                  My late mother was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and, without having read The Boys of Summer, told me how when a ball was hit to him, Cox would do exactly what Pee Wee Reese complained that he would do in that book: look at the ball for a second, then unload it because he had a great arm.
                  Nice quote.

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                  • #10
                    I saw Billy Cox most his Brooklyn career. He was the greatest defensive third baseman I ever saw. When I wrote about him, some of the "modern" fans laced into me, citing new sabermetric measurements. The problem is that the new sabermetric measurements cannot determine Cox' greatness.
                    Baseball articles you might not like but should read.

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                    • #11
                      Here we have two Forum members who were eye-witnesses to Cox’s greatness as a fielder, plus, as stated by another, “the universal testimony of his peers that he was the best of his time.”

                      But like the Birther argument swirling around President Obama, such objective, first-hand observations don’t seem to matter.

                      No amount of evidence is sufficient to convince the sabermetricians and those who dismiss eye witness accounts.

                      I’m surprised none of them has asked to see Cox’s birth certificate.

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                      • #12
                        I think people should remember Bill James admonition about accepting people's word when they say "the best I ever saw was .....". As he explained, the first time you see greatness will impress you more than the subsequent times. How many of us of the older generation say "Sandy Koufax was the best pitcher I ever saw" when we have ample evidence to the contrary?? The evidence simply isn't enough to overrule what we "know we saw".
                        Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Squeeze Play View Post
                          Here we have two Forum members who were eye-witnesses to Cox’s greatness as a fielder, plus, as stated by another, “the universal testimony of his peers that he was the best of his time.”

                          But like the Birther argument swirling around President Obama, such objective, first-hand observations don’t seem to matter.

                          No amount of evidence is sufficient to convince the sabermetricians and those who dismiss eye witness accounts.

                          I’m surprised none of them has asked to see Cox’s birth certificate.
                          I am in SABR. Of course, I don't dismiss eyewitness accounts in baseball or real life. What I do think happens is that fielding is judged by the standards of Olympic platform diving; which is to say by what it looks like. A spectacular play is not worth anything more than a routine play. Diving and figure skating are judged by appearence.

                          Derek Jeter looks cool going into the hole and making the jump throw. He does not make that many plays.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bill Burgess View Post
                            I find that detail interesting. Brooks Robinson and Bill Mazeroski also opted for smaller sized gloves. They both claimed they preferred the better control it gave them over the larger sizes that were then available.
                            Joe Morgan has also mentioned that he used a small mitt. Hmph. Brooks, Maz and Morgan...more than coincidence?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by KCGHOST View Post
                              I think people should remember Bill James admonition about accepting people's word when they say "the best I ever saw was .....". As he explained, the first time you see greatness will impress you more than the subsequent times. How many of us of the older generation say "Sandy Koufax was the best pitcher I ever saw" when we have ample evidence to the contrary?? The evidence simply isn't enough to overrule what we "know we saw".
                              Well, unfortunately I'm now of the older generation. I also started playing with what became SABRmetric-like ideas long before SABR existed. I appreciate a lot of what it does/tries to do, but am not wed to it. I followed Sandy Koufax over the entire course of his career- though I never saw him pitch his first couple of seasons. Koufax, from 1961 through 1966 was the greatest pitcher I ever saw, despite "evidence to the contrary". No other pitcher since then has had the same combination of physical talent, skill, and stamina. Clemens was the closest, but pitching regularly on 4 days rest and throwing 10 complete games a season is very different than what Koufax had to confront. Clemens' career, of course, was greater than Koufax'. But during his all too short peak Koufax was unmatched in the past 50 years, in my opinion.

                              Not trying to hijack this thread but I had to respond to your comment. I agree that eyewitness testimony and newness to the game can create compications, but I'll stand behind my belief about Koufax.
                              Last edited by BigRon; 05-02-2011, 02:36 PM.

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