Phillies Bowa to School Fish?


The Phillies and Miami Marlins had no sooner wrapped up their 2015 regular season with a game at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday, than the off-season rumor and speculation season began in earnest.

The Marlins asked for, and received, permission to speak with Phils’ bench coach and longtime organizational man Larry Bowa regarding their full-time managerial position.

Bowa, who will turn 70 years old on December 6th, has managed twice previously in the Major Leagues. In the 1987-88 seasons he received his first shot, skippering the San Diego Padres. His first team finished in last place in the NL West with a 65-97 record in 1987. In 1988, the Friars got off to a 16-30 start, and Bowa was let go.

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Bowa was then hired back with the Phillies as the 3rd base coach, a position in which he would remain through the 1996 season. This included the 1993 run to the World Series during which he and former teammate John Vukovich became the first in franchise history to reach the Fall Classic as both players and coaches.

Interviewed for the Phils’ head coaching job following that 1996 season, Bowa was passed over, and moved on to become 3rd base coach with the Angels and Mariners.

Wildly popular with the fan base, Bowa returned to finally take the helm of the Phillies as the manager for the 2001 season, nearly piloting the club to an NL East crown. That first Phils’ team finished in 2nd place, just 2 games behind the division champion Atlanta Braves, with a record of 86-76. For his work, Bowa was named the National League Manager of the Year.

Bowa would go 337-308 across most of four seasons as the Phils’ manager, and was in that position as the team closed Veteran’s Stadium and opened Citizens Bank Park. But he was never able to get the club to the top of the division, and was finally released with just two games to go in the 2004 campaign.

After a brief time as a broadcast analyst, Bowa returned to the field as Joe Torre‘s 3rd base coach, first with the Yankees and then with the Dodgers. During his stint in LA, Bowa was their 3rd base coach during two consecutive NLCS losses to the Phillies in the 2008-09 postseason.

Serving as an “MLB Tonight” analyst for parts of the next three seasons, Bowa again returned to the field with Torre to help mentor Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. That led to his return to the Phillies as the bench coach for ex-teammate Ryne Sandberg in 2014, the position that he continues to hold under Pete Mackanin.

Prior to his managerial and coaching career, Bowa had a lengthy career as a player, coming up through the Phillies farm system in the late 1960’s before debuting in the Major Leagues as a rookie during the final season at Connie Mack Stadium in 1970.

In 1971, Veteran’s Stadium opened, and it would become the scene of Bowa’s and the team’s greatest moments. Throughout the 70’s, as Bowa’s own play and performance improved, so did the team. In an era of great defensive shortstops, Bowa would win Gold Gloves at the position in 1972 and 1978, and he deserved to win more.

Bowa was an NL All-Star with the Phillies in 5 of the 6 seasons between 1974-79, was a key component in the team winning 3 straight NL East crowns from 1976-78, and then was a vital starting player on the 1980 World Series championship squad. In the 1980 World Series vs Kansas City, Bowa hit .375 with a .417 OBP. He had 9 hits in the Series, scored 3 runs, and stole 3 bases.

As part of a trade following the 1981 season, Bowa was dealt to the Chicago Cubs. He would play most of his final four seasons in Chicago, finishing up with 14 games for the New York Mets at the end of the 1985 season.

In all, Bowa played 16 MLB seasons, the first dozen of those with the Phillies. He amassed 2,191 hits during his career, scored 987 runs, and stole 318 bases. He had 9 seasons with at least 20 bases, and finished with a 22.6 career WAR mark.

The 2015 season marked a 50th anniversary in organized professional baseball for Bowa, who was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent all the way back in 1965 as a 19-year old out of McClatchy High School in Sacramento, California.

Bowa has already been offered a contract to return to the Phillies for the 2016 season as the team continues its rebuilding efforts, but he has yet to agree to the terms. According to insider Jim Salisbury, the Marlins have already interviewed both Manny Acta and Bo Porter for the position that was filled on an interim basis this year by GM Dan Jennings.

Next: Phils End 2015 On An Up Note