NEW YORK -- Bobby Cox will retire as manager of the Atlanta Braves after next season, ending an illustrious career in which he guided the team to 14 consecutive postseason appearances and the 1995 World Series title.
The 68-year-old Cox, a four-time Manager of the Year, agreed to a one-year contract extension for 2010, the Braves announced before Wednesday night's game against the New York Mets. He will start a five-year consulting agreement to advise the team in baseball operations after he steps down as manager.
"They asked me to come back, and I said I would do it for one more year, and we'll announce the retirement along with it. It's the only way I think I'm ever going to walk away from the game, is to go ahead and say I'm going to, and then I've got to," Cox said. "There's no turning back now -- win, lose or draw. Whatever happens next year is going to be it."
A cigar-smoking baseball lifer, Cox managed the Braves from 1978-81, switched to manage the Toronto Blue Jays from 1982-85, then returned to manage Atlanta in 1990.
He began Wednesday with 2,408 regular-season wins as a manager, fourth behind Connie Mack (3,731), John McGraw (2,763) and Tony La Russa (2,550). Cox and Joe McCarthy are the only managers with six 100-win regular seasons.
"There is a little bit of relief once you come to grips with announcing it," Cox said. "I've never lost the love to manage -- period. But you have to make a decision. At my age, you have to make a decision. Somebody a little younger can start up."
Braves general manager Frank Wren said he won't start thinking about a successor for Cox until an appropriate time next season. Both men said Cox probably will have input.
"I'll believe it when I see it," said Braves slugger Chipper Jones, who has played for Cox his entire career. "He's been the one constant through the entire run that we've had over the last 20 years. It'll be a sad day, a sad day when he leaves."
The 37-year-old Jones said the Braves will have added incentive next season to send Cox out a winner. But Jones said he isn't sure he'll stick around long enough to play for a different manager.
"I'm just glad he'll be around for one more year," Jones said.
Wren said the agreement was reached last weekend while the Braves were playing Philadelphia, but Cox didn't want an announcement to take the focus off that series. The team had decided to reveal the news when it returned home to Atlanta next week, but Wren said all the public speculation and false information about Cox's future persuaded the club to make an announcement Wednesday.
Cox said his role as adviser likely will include visiting Braves farm clubs to offer advice, evaluations and perhaps even hands-on instruction. He said it's a job he's excited about.
Still, many in baseball have a hard time imagining anyone besides No. 6 on the bench in the Braves dugout.
"He's quite an icon in the sport. Managers look to try to attain that level of status that he has," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "I think that's unfortunate for the Braves -- probably fortunate for everybody else in the division. But it'll be different to look over there and know that somebody else was kind of running that game strategically.
"He's had a tremendous, tremendous run. He has really set the bar tremendously high over there. So anybody that steps in there will have some big, big shoes to fill as far as stability and strategy."
Cox said the person he consulted most about the decision was his wife, Pam. He acknowledged she was happy
"She's been after me for quite awhile," he said.