Icon: a person who is very successful and admired.Say hello to Larry Bowa. It only seems like yesterday that he was a rookie shortstop. This year he finished his 33rd season with the Phillies. No one has worn that uniform longer.The 72-year-old Bowa is now a senior advisor to general
Icon: a person who is very successful and admired.
Say hello to Larry Bowa. It only seems like yesterday that he was a rookie shortstop. This year he finished his 33rd season with the Phillies. No one has worn that uniform longer.
The 72-year-old Bowa is now a senior advisor to general manager Matt Klentak. He'll be in spring training as an instructor and visit the Phillies minor league clubs during the season. There's no better infield professor than Larry Bowa.
• Phillies alumni
Bowa's career notebook:
The first ever summer draft took place in 1965 and Larry, a skinny shortstop from Sacramento, CA, wasn't selected. 824 amateur players were.
Phillies scout, the late Eddie Bockman, had seen Larry play at various levels of amateur baseball in the San Francisco Bay area. He knew Larry had basic baseball tools, knew he had heart, knew he was a competitor, knew he had a temper and thought it worthy of bringing Paul Owens (director of the farm system then) into the picture.
During the 1965 World Series (Dodgers/Twins), Bockman and Owens met in the latter's hotel suite in Los Angeles. Bockman had some eight millimeter film of a young infielder and wanted Owens to see the home movie. They had no screen, so Owens took the sheet off his bed and the two of them scotch taped it to the wall. Owens liked what he saw. Larry signed for $1,200.00, October 12, 1965.
He was ready to quit after his first pro game at Spartanburg in 1966. Hitless in four at-bats, all strikeouts. He was a victim of a future Hall of Famer, Nolan Ryan.
His first year in the Phillies big league camp was 1967 in Clearwater, FL. He wore #53. I remember manager Gene Mauch saying, "I can see him run, can see him catch the ball, can see him throw. When he hits, I don't hear anything."
A natural right-handed batter, Bowa began switch-hitting in 1969 at triple-A, Eugene in the Pacific Coast League.
A year later he made his major league debut, April 7, against the Chicago Cubs at Connie Mack Stadium; 0-3, against Ferguson Jenkins, another future Cooperstown icon.
Despite hitting .191 through first two months, manager Frank Lucchesi stuck with him. Bowa finished the season with a .250 average.
After 12 years with the Phillies, he moved on to the Cubs and Mets, ending a playing career in 1985.
His post playing career included coaching for the Phillies (1988-96; 2014-17), Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Mariners and Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
He managed AAA Las Vegas, the San Diego Padres and Phillies.
While not in uniform, he spent time as an analyst for ESPN's Baseball Tonight, co-hosted a show on XM Radio and was a studio analyst for the MLB Network at various times.
He was ultra competitive, a battler, scrappy, chirpy, feisty and an endless worker. He used all of that and wound up with 2,191 hits in 2,247 games and a .260 average. As a shortstop he was automatic, making only 211 errors in 19,058.1 innings.
Oh, add fidgety to Bowa's characteristics. His Sacramento buddy, the late John Vukovich, loved to tell the story, "We roomed together one spring training when we were coaches. Bow always grabbed the TV remove first. The longest I saw a show was 10 seconds."
Bockman mentioned a temper. Bowa once received a plumbing bill from Phillies president Ruly Carpenter. Why? For destroying the dugout toilet with his bat.
Then there's his emotion. Photographer Miles Kennedy captured Bowa as he touched home plate for the last time during the Veterans Stadium closing ceremonies.
**A kid cut from his high school team, undrafted and ready to quit pro ball after one game wound up as one of the most beloved players in Phillies history, a true icon.
Larry Shenk is editor/author of the Alumni page.