Legendary Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox says he's got a special place in his heart for newly minted Hall of Famer Chipper Jones ... cause he says the dude saved his job.

To be fair, Chipper owes a lot to Cox, too ... Bobby was general manager of the Braves when Jones was drafted #1 overall in 1990, and the two won a World Series together five years later.

That might be why Cox -- who most believe is the greatest manager in Braves history -- gave it up to Jones when we got him in Atlanta this past weekend.