Q&A: Joey Cora, who managed both World Series managers

ByMarly Rivera ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The connections between the two World Series managers are pretty well-known. Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox were teammates on the Dodgers from 2002-2004 during their big league careers, with Cora manning the middle infield while Roberts patrolled center. But what might be less well-known is that they had already been teammates during winter ball, playing for Caguas in Puerto Rico for Alex's brother, former major league player Joey Cora. Before the start of the World Series, Marly Rivera caught up with Joey, the man who managed both World Series managers, to get his thoughts on both men and the careers that brought them to this confrontation.

Marly Rivera: Can you talk about your personal experience seeing your brother get to the World Series? Alex has always given you credit for being where he is today.

Joey Cora: There are no words to describe this. I had the opportunity to win a World Series. I played in an All-Star Game and in playoff games. I played with Ken Griffey Jr., with Frank Thomas, with so many incredible players. I had a career that was full of achievements and things like that, but none of that could ever compare to what is happening right now.

MR: How would you describe this accomplishment for Alex, becoming the first Puerto Rican manager to lead a team to the World Series?

JC: It is the ultimate pride for the Cora family to see Alex do what he is doing and to be having the success that he is having.

MR: Can Alex balance the job he needs to do heading to a World Series and at the same time appreciate the magnitude of his accomplishments?

JC: Obviously, he knows that the main goal is to win a World Series with Boston, and by doing that and by getting to where he is, he represents Puerto Rico in the way that we all want. But whether he wins it or not, I think the work he has done has been extraordinary. We're all very proud. The final result doesn't matter.

MR: I know your dad passed away when Alex was 12, and you became a father figure for him. He has certainly done your family proud.

JC: Wherever he is, I am sure he is proud. This feeling is completely different from anything else because he is my younger brother, and I have always wanted the best for him, like he was one of my children. To watch him succeed is a great source of pride for me.

MR: How did Alex develop his managerial style?

JC: He prepared throughout his career. He learned a lot by watching while I played, while he played. He had so many influences from so many people, and he took notes from each one of them and is applying the best of each one of those people. Now we are seeing the results.

MR: Do you think, given the fact that this is the first time two minority managers are facing each other in the World Series, out of the three presently in the major leagues, that it could open doors for others?

JC: I don't know how to respond. ... I'll answer the Joey Cora way: Yesterday they hired two managers, and we saw the way it was done. But we are happy that even though it's just a few, they're doing good work and are showing people in baseball that we are more than capable to lead an organization.

MR: Where will you watch with your family? I hope you brought some warm clothes.

JC: It's definitely going to be interesting to watch from the stands. It will be very interesting because I think it is one of the few times that I have had the opportunity to see a game from the stands. I did see Alex in his first playoffs with the Dodgers in 2004. I saw him play in St. Louis. I remember my daughter was just born, and I remember we went to see him play. I also saw him in his big league debut against the team in Seattle. We played against each other. We played together. We have shared all our achievements, but obviously, nothing compares to this, the greatest achievement of all would be for him to win a World Series.

MR: I think people don't know that Alex and Dave actually played for you in winter ball in Puerto Rico before being teammates in L.A.

JC: Yes, Alex was already our shortstop. I needed to sign some players as reinforcements, so I decided to sign Dave Roberts [for the 1999-2000 winter ball season], who at that time played center field for Cleveland. We were looking for a center fielder with speed, and Dave had all the characteristics we were looking for. He had a very good season. That Caguas team had not gone to the playoffs in many years, and we went on to the playoffs thanks to him, and thanks to Alex, who also had a very good season. Next year [in 2001] we won the championship. Dave Roberts made me look great. He gave us exactly what we were looking for.

MR: Did you already see indications of the Dave Roberts we have come to know today?

JC: He worked very hard, prepared himself very well. He was not a super-gifted player with spectacular skills, but he was very fast. You could almost tell that he would eventually be a coach or a manager because he was always a student of the game and respected the game. I am really happy that he got to where he is.

Everything he has accomplished is because of his work ethic. That's why he is where he is. He had his cup of coffee in the major leagues, he played in the big leagues for a while, and now obviously he has gotten to where he wanted.

MR: Could you even fathom back then that this would happen?

JC: I imagined that one day they could play in a World Series, and they both did. But for both of them to have the success they are having, I think it speaks well of the one who hired them 18 years ago! [Laughs] But what I can say is that they certainly had the type of character that is needed to be a major league manager of a World Series-bound team. And it speaks well of that Caguas team, without a doubt. Alex Cintrón was also on that team, and he's the first-base coach in Houston right now, and who knows if in a few years he can be a major league manager as well. The core of that team was very interesting, very good, and obviously, we are seeing the results today.

MR: Do you keep in touch with Dave?

JC: Yes, he is a friend. I just talked to him a couple of days ago and told him that, unfortunately, I can't wish him luck, but I wish him health this postseason. He knows there was no way I could wish him luck! And he understands that. But we have always been good friends and he has always been a very good person, and we will always remain close.

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