Former major league shortstop, manager and coach Larry Bowa was the headline speaker for a SABR Rocky Mountain Chapter luncheon and manager speaker series on April 19, 2014, in Denver, Colorado, in front of 46 SABR members and guest attendees.
Bowa is a former shortstop, manager, and coach of MLB who played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets; he also managed the San Diego Padres and Phillies, and is currently the Phillies’ bench coach under Ryne Sandberg.
The meeting opened with a few announcements and chapter business items as many in the audience began to enjoy a buffet meal at the Denver ChopHouse in downtown Denver.
Chapter board member and past president Paul Parker emceed the event. Parker introduced Bowa, who took to the podium and began to recall stories about how he got into baseball and what the game was like while he played. While at C.K. McClatchy High School, Larry spoke about trying out but never making the school’s baseball team. After graduation, Bowa went to Sacramento City College where he started, and was expected to go in the MLB Draft, but didn’t. The Philadelphia Phillies were the only Major League team interested in him. They sent a local area scout to watch him play in a doubleheader, only for Larry to be thrown out of both games for arguing. Playing on an area winter league team that year, he played well enough that the Phillies signed him for a $2,000 bonus.
In response to a question from the floor, Bowa talked about his favorite player growing up being Luis Aparicio of the Go-Go White Sox. Who says little guys can’t play? Characterized by his “soft” hands, strong arm, and his high level of passion for the game, Bowa won two Gold Glove Awards and led the National League in fielding percentage six times, then a league record. He retired with the NL record for career games at shortstop (2222) and the Major League records for fielding average in a career (.980) and a single season (.991, in 1979).
He also responded to a question about serving as the bench coach for the USA team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic and the preparation and approach of the various teams for the classic games. He also spoke about joining Ryne Sandberg’s Phillies staff as bench coach for the 2014 season, as well as the current rule changes for the 2014 season.
For more information on the Rocky Mountain Chapter, visit our website at www.rmsabr.org.
— John Paul