With Mackanin out, Bowa hoping he can stay at ‘home’
PHILADELPHIA » When Larry Bowa, the diminutive kid from Sacramento with the lungs of a man twice his size, finally arrived to stay in Philadelphia in the spring of 1970, he was a 24-year-old shortstop with a long and unlikely career in front of him.
Most of his ensuing 47 years would be spent in a Phillies uniform, reaching heights of success no one could have predicted for him. Friday, he thought it was time to remind everyone of that.
“This is my home,” Bowa said. “This is where I grew up. People recognize me as a Phillie.”
So with equal parts anxiety and pride, along with an outpouring of emotion in the wake of the announcement that colleague and friend Pete Mackanin was being removed from his role as manager for next season, Bowa set about campaigning stay here and stay employed.
But he’d do so only with a fond farewell to Mackanin.
“You know, I’ve seen a lot of stuff,” Bowa said. “All I can tell you is I think Pete did a great job. He took a really young team — and then we obviously got reinforcements, some good young players — and if you take a look at what he did in the second half, I thought he did a great job.”
Bowa has seen every corner of baseball life, from his unlikely rookie debut to years as arguably baseball’s best fielding shortstop. From the heights of a World Series championship in 1980, to a near miss with the Cubs four years later. From his first managing job in San Diego in 1987 to a long career with the Phillies and elsewhere, and finally a managerial appointment here in 2000.
Bowa would find out firsthand what it was like to be fired as a Phillies manager, too, but it didn’t stop him from serving three seasons as first Ryne Sandberg’s, then Mackanin’s right-hand man on the bench.
With Mackanin being “transitioned” to the front office by general manager Matt Klentak, the writing seems on the wall for Bowa and his fellow coaches. With national television and radio stints on his resume and enough baseball experience to fill several books, Bowa has options. But there’s no question about what his first choice would be.
“I’m still, age-wise, what, 71? But you guys see me work every day,” Bowa said. “I’m relentless when it comes to that. So if they have something in mind, I’m going sit down and talk with them and see where it goes.”
While saying no decisions on the status of any coaches has been reached, Klentak essentially declared them free to walk by Monday.
Only Bowa, so often in trouble with the manager as a player here, the guy who eventually left and came back, left again and came back again ... made it very clear he doesn’t want to do that again.
“All I can tell you is I’ve been in this uniform longer than anybody, since the Phillies existed,” Bowa said. “My No. 1 priority is to stay in this organization. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
“That’s No. 1. And if I’m not, then I’ll look for other stuff. But right now, I want to stay in this organization.”