Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that former Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds manager Russ Nixon died earlier this week. He was 81.
Nixon was a backup catcher in the majors for 12 seasons, spending time with the Red Sox, Indians and Twins between 1957 and 1968. He retired with a career line of .268/.310/.361 in over 2,700 plate appearances. After his playing career he was a minor league coach and manager in the Reds organization and a coach under Sparky Anderson on the big league club during The Big Red Machine days. He stayed on after Anderson was fired and was the Reds manager in the final decline days of the Johnny Bench Reds in 1982-83.
After a short stint as an Expos coach, Nixon moved to the Braves organization, first as a coach under Chuck Tanner and then, as a minor league manager. He would go on to succeed Tanner during the Braves’ disastrous 1988 season. he stayed on as the Braves rebuilt under new GM Bobby Cox in 1989 and for the first 65 games in 1990, when Cox moved downstairs into the dugout. Cox would finish the 1990 season and, of course, go on to manage the Braves for the next 20 years. Nixon would remain in baseball, primarily as a minor league coach and instructor, through the 2007 season.