ATLANTA (AP) -- Bobby Cox had only a few rules.
Play hard. No loud music or (in later years) yapping on cells phones in the clubhouse.
That formula carried the longtime Atlanta Braves manager to one of the most successful managing careers in major league history.
The 72-year-old Cox, who was unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame on Monday along with fellow retired managers Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, guided the Braves to an unprecedented 14 straight division titles and 15 playoff appearances. When he retired after the 2010 season, he was the fourth-winningest manager with 2,504 victories, trailing only Connie Mack, John McGraw and La Russa.
''The greatest manager any of us will know,'' longtime Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said.
The only blemish on Cox's record: The Braves captured only one World Series title despite all those trips to the postseason. Most disappointing was a loss to Torre's Yankees in 1996 after the Braves dominated the first two games in New York.
But there was no denying Cox's skills in the dugout - chomping on a cigar, a little rough around the edges, endearingly self-deprecating and always a staunch defender of his guys.
If a pitcher gave up a bunch of home runs, Cox would inevitably say the wind was blowing out - even if the flags were hanging limp around the stadium. If a batter struck out with the bases loaded, Cox would insist he was simply the victim of a brilliant pitch that not even Babe Ruth could've touched.
He was the epitome of the ''player's manager.''
''One of the priorities for me is handling people,'' Cox said Monday. Cox hopes all three can go in together.
After a few down seasons, Cox announced that 2010 would be his last. I really, really miss that.''
While Cox largely relied on his players to govern the clubhouse, there was never a doubt about who was in charge.
When a young Andruw Jones loafed after a ball, Cox yanked him from the game, forcing him to make an embarrassing run to the dugout right in the middle of the inning. In fact, toward the end of his long career with the Braves, both he and Cox disputed that it ever happened, a sign of the admiration that grew between Cox and so many of his players.
The rare player who resisted Cox's team-first approach didn't last long in Atlanta. What happens one night isn't carried over to the next.''
Cox never held grudges, either.
On his first day of retirement, he ran into infielder Brooks Conrad, whose three errors in Game 3 of that playoff series against the Giants helped shorten Cox's career.
The two hugged, and Conrad asked his now ex-manager if could sign a few pieces of memorabilia.
''I'll sign anything you want,'' Cox said.
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