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Klesko, Dews say they'll miss Cox

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

ALBANY -- The Atlanta Braves had a year to remember in 2010.

They won the National League Wild Card, made it to the NLDS and saw the rise of rookie Jason Heyward.

The one thing that made it such a significant year, however, was the retirement of Bobby Cox after 25 years managing the team.

That was the main topic of conversation at the 25th Annual Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt Dinner on Thursday at Darton College, where former Braves star Ryan Klesko and longtime Braves coach Bobby Dews reflected on the year that was and Cox's impact on the organization.

"It's almost beyond words what he did for the organization," said Dews, pausing to find those words.

He then added: "Not only does his record speak for itself, but there's the fact that people would come and play for (him just) a couple of years and (say good things about him). Generally, in baseball, once somebody cuts or releases you, you have negative things to say about (the team that did it), but I never heard anybody -- not one ex-player -- say anything derogatory about Bobby."

Klesko agreed.

"He was the backbone for that organization for so many years," said Klesko, who has attended the event 15 times. "Hopefully we'll get him down here (in Albany) in the next year or two to support this organization. But Bobby was a great man and took the Braves for a good run."

That run ended with a loss to the San Francisco Giants in four games in the NLDS, a series Klesko had a hard time deciding who to root for, since he played for the Braves from 1992-99 and the Giants in 2007.

"I was kind of pulling for both teams, since I played for both the Braves and the Giants," said Klesko, who keeps himself busy with his text-mobile marketing company, an outdoors television show, a real-estate business and outdoors company that specializes in bow-hunting. "I played longer for the Braves, obviously, but the Giants ended up winning it all. I was (also) really pulling for Bobby Cox and the Braves because it was his last year and everything, but it ended up being pretty good because the Giants won it all and they were the team I ended my career with. So it was a good year for baseball and (featured) a team that nobody thought would win it all, and they did."

It made losing the NLDS a little easier, according to Dews.

"We're really proud of that, particularly in Bobby Cox's final year," said Dews, who recently signed his 37th contract with the Braves and 53rd in the pros. "We'd been out of the playoffs the last three years after 14 straight years in it, so I thought it was kind of remarkable that we got back and won the Wild Card by one game."

"As I look back on all the playoff games, we played the Giants as tough as anybody. If we hadn't made a couple (costly) errors, (we could have gone all the way)."