It helps to have some writing chops when you pitch a book about your 20-year relationship with Braves skipper Bobby Cox from the perspective of your couch. Thankfully, former Atlantan and now New York City-based Slam magazine executive editor Lang Whitaker is a gifted storyteller.
Last week, his memoir “In the Time of Bobby Cox: The Atlanta Braves, Their Manager, My Couch, Two Decades and Me” hit the shelves and immediately garnered a rave review in the Wall Street Journal and from Atlanta magazine book editor Teresa Weaver. Tonight at 7, the former Creative Loafing writer will sign copies of the book at Manuel’s Tavern.
So how do you turn a two-decade hobby of watching Braves games into a book of life lessons sprouted from a couch potato?
“It wasn’t easy!” Whitaker tells Intel. “It helps to have a really good agent and a lot of funny stories.” When it came time to edit “Bobby Cox,” Whitaker had an artful accomplice in Scribner’s New York offices: senior editor Brant Rumble. Explains Whitaker: “Brant is also a Braves fan living in New York so he completely understood the book and my obsession.”
Still, Whitaker wisely kept a throwing arm’s length away from book’s name sake. “I met Bobby Cox a couple of years ago in his office at spring training,” he says. “It was like meeting Santa Claus. But I realized as a reporter it was better to have that separation from your subject.”
So far, Whitaker hasn’t heard any reaction to the book from Cox and says he doesn’t expect to. “He probably has a lot better things to do than read my book!”
With a looming deadline last fall, Whitaker closes “In the Time of Bobby Cox” with the retiring manager’s final heartbreaking NLDS playoff game against the San Francisco Giants.
“It gave the narrative a natural ending,” he explains. “When Bobby disappeared into that tunnel, I remember thinking, ‘That’s our last glimpse of him.’ And then to watch the Giants stop celebrating and bring Bobby back out to pay tribute to him was an amazing thing to get to see.”
And like any die hard Braves fans, Whitaker waits a beat and adds: “Winning the World Series would have been nice too.”