NEW YORK -- When Kevin Towers' successful 14-year run as the Padres' general manager concluded prior to the 2010 season, Yankees GM Brian Cashman jumped at the opportunity to bring the respected executive into New York's front office as a special-assignment scout.Cashman was not surprised when Towers' stay turned out
NEW YORK -- When Kevin Towers' successful 14-year run as the Padres' general manager concluded prior to the 2010 season, Yankees GM Brian Cashman jumped at the opportunity to bring the respected executive into New York's front office as a special-assignment scout.
Cashman was not surprised when Towers' stay turned out to be brief. After that season, the D-backs named Towers as their GM, and he helped lead Arizona to a 29-game turnaround and a National League West title.
Towers passed away on Tuesday at the age of 56 after battling a rare form of thyroid cancer.
• Former D-backs, Padres GM Towers dies
"It was a long, tough journey for him," Cashman said. "It's a tough day. He lived a great life, just unfortunately shorter than he deserved. He was just a special man."
Cashman said that he and Towers spoke recently, and that Towers seemed to be in good spirits. The two had maintained a friendship since the late 1990s, and Cashman's Yankees defeated Towers' Padres in the 1998 World Series.
"He was a great evaluator, he had a passion and knowledge for the game that was obviously rare, and his connections were off the charts," Cashman said. "He knew everybody. Everybody who knew him loved him. He was just a very valuable person to have within your organization because of how well connected he was, and then you combine that with the knowledge of the game ... [It] made him a real instrumental cog in your efforts. He was a special guy."
Cashman and Towers were frequently seen together at such industry events as the annual GM Meetings and Winter Meetings, sharing stories and laughs into the late hours. Cashman said that Towers was the kind of person with whom one story was never enough.
"It was a lifetime of stories and experiences with K.T.," Cashman said. "I did a lot of trades with him. He was a dear friend. We'd bounce ideas off of each other; there was a great deal of trust. We all lost a great one."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.