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Thread: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 89

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    Bob Howsam Passes Away at 89

    From Hal McCoy's blog:


    Double Barreled Sad news
    By Hal McCoy | Tuesday, February 19, 2008, 12:35 PM

    T’was a day of sadness in the spring training camp of the Cincinnati Reds.

    First, former Reds Presdident/General Manager Bob Howsam died at his Sun City, Ariz. home. He was 90.


    And while it isn’t official, it doesn’t look as if former Reds broadcaster Joe Nuxhall won the Ford Frick Award that would put him in the Hall of Fame.

    The official announcement isn’t until 2 p.m., but the Hall of Fame has not given the Reds PR department a heads-up. When Marty Brennaman won the Frick Award, the Reds PR department was notified the day before.

    And Nuxhall’s partner, Brennaman, was not in camp Tuesday, another indication. If Nuxhall made it, Brennaman most likely would be in camp to avail himself to the media.

    Howsam was the construction engineer of The Big Red Machine. His son, Bob Howsam, Jr., had asked several people to autograph baseball’s last week for his father’s 90 birthday party, schedule next week. Howsam was born on Feb. 29 (leap year), 1918.

    Bernie Stowe, an employee in many capacties with the Reds since 1948, was one who autographed a ball for Howsam and said, “He was one of a kind. He treated everybody like a human.”

    Howsam, an advocate of a strong minor-league system, recognized the shortcomings of his team in the ealry 1970s and made a trade that brought in second baseman Joe Morgan, center fielder Cesar Geronimo and pitcher Jack Billingham, the final pieces that led to the Reds winning the World Series in 1975 and 1976.
    Last edited by Caseyfan21; 02-19-2008 at 01:35 PM.

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  3. #2
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    And what a life it was.

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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    Very sad.

    Howsam's accomplishments all took place before my lifetime, but that doesn't mean they're overlooked. The guy obviously had amazing baseball smarts and while he wasn't quite the figure that Nuxhall was to Cincinnati, I hope he's not forgotten.

    RIP Bob.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    I wrote this two years ago after Castenelli bought the team.

    The Dynasty Builder

    Bob Howsam
    5 NL West Titles, 4 NL Titles, 2 World Championships

    Code:
    W           L         PCT    
    1122      813     .580
    “Your Ballpark is a stage. People sit there for three hours watching a show. The players are the actors in uniform. The producers are the coaches and managers throughout the system. It is up to them to make the actors perform well.”

    Bob Howsam Big Red Machine



    Not only did Bill DeWitt vacate the owners’ office, but also his departure left the team without a GM. The 617 Inc. Company knew very little about the business of baseball, and like good businessmen they embarked on a search to find the right man for the job. Initially, the group had two targets. Ironically both had history of working with Branch Rickey.

    Out west they eyed Dodger employee Buzzie Bavasi. Though flattered, Buzzie rebuffed the groups’ advances, hoping instead to one day be named GM of the Dodgers. The Reds other choice was current Cardinals general manager Bob Howsam, who had reached the major leagues, ranks a few years earlier and helped the Cardinals win the famous 1964 pennant race. Howsam’s contributions in St Louis included opening their new stadium and leaving them a great roster of players, which was evident by their back-to-back pennants in 1967and 1968, after Howsam left for the Reds job. Howsam had shallow roots in St Louis, and found the challenge in Cincinnati to be intriguing. This time the new owners were successful, luring Howsam away from the Cardinals, on January 22nd 1966. Bob Howsam joined the Reds front office, becoming the 5th Branch Rickey disciple since 1934 into the leadership role of the Cincinnati Reds.

    Howsam’s family owned the Denver Bears in the early 50’s, and it was there that Howsam learned to market a baseball team to a community. He did such fine job in 1951 that he was named The Sporting News Minor League Executive of the year. Before expansion and an organized draft a well-run minor league organization could count on being courted by a Major League team in search of a new talent pipeline. It wasn’t until 1953 that Howsam’s real education in baseball would begin. At the conclusion of the 1953 season, the Denver team severed their working agreement with the Braves and began courting relationships with other franchises. At the time Rickey was with the cellar dwelling Pirates, and was working diligently to expand the team’s meager talent base. Rickey, always on the lookout for bright young men, struck an agreement with the Bears. Thus, Branch Rickey began his relationship with Bob Howsam.

    “I would watch him work with the pitchers, listen to him lecture the players, and I was like a puppy dog. He allowed me to be right at his elbow,”

    Bob Howsam. Big Red Dynasty


    Howsam leaned towards the Rickey style of play throughout his career as a GM, citing speed as a key asset, looking for power first foremost, and eschewing smaller pitchers if a larger man was available. Later on that decade, Howsam worked with Rickey on the plans for the Continental League, and also helped with the forming of the American Football League, becoming the first owner of the Denver Broncos. In the early 60’s, Howsam thought that his career in sports had come to an end, until once again a Branch Rickey recommendation was solicited. This time it was the Cardinals doing the asking.

    In 1964 Rickey was an advisor to owner Augie Busch, who happened to be displeased with current Cardinals GM Bing Devine. Just as he had endorsed Larry MacPhail at that National League meeting 30 years prior, Rickey recommended Bob Howsam as the man capable of being the right kind of leader to guide the franchise in the increasingly modern times. Like a good Rickey pupil, Howsam expanded the scouting staff and traded the aging veterans after their initial success. However, after too many office power struggles in St. Louis, Howsam was more than happy to listen to any other offers.

    The Reds situation wasn’t without its problems. DeWitt’s ownership was marked with a distinct lack of cash, evidenced by the small staff and sub standard equipment they had been using
    The infrastructure of the Reds operation was not up to Howsam’s standards. His immediate reaction to the situation recalled MacPhail’s vigor in remaking the franchise during the darkest days of the Depression. Shortly after arriving, Howsam had lobbied for more cash, and poured this money into a larger, more experienced staff and facilities. A first class organization consisted of capable people from top to bottom, and the best equipment to get the job done. Howsam wasted no time, adding a new minor league team to the club’s holdings, and expanding the scouting network far beyond the prior administrations. This increased the sheer number player the Reds had under contract, allowing them to have more prospects to pick and choose from than ever before. Howsam’s skills reached beyond the office. He made astute trades for players like George Foster, Cesar Geronimo, Joe Morgan, Fred Norman and Clay Carroll over the years.

    His ability to see the impact of the game on turf, early, enabled him to capitalize on this knowledge when the Reds moved out of Crosley and into Riverfront. Howsam created the Reds Speaker Bureau and expanded the Reds off-season marketing push in the outer areas of Reds country, soliciting the longtime listeners of Reds announcing legend Waite Hoyt. The next ten years of Reds baseball produced five NL West titles and four World Series appearances. After handing off the GM job to his long-time assistant Dick Wagner, Howsam returned to the Reds in the mid 80’s, restoring the team to a contender almost as fast as Wagner had destroyed it. Bob Howsam brought the knowledge of modern day sports marketing to the Reds and tethered it to the game philosophy espoused by Rickey. His guidance was the major component in building a legendary team that the city embraced with never-matched passion.

    No Owner or general manager is perfect, each one of these men had qualities that has negatively affected the Reds franchise as well as enriched it. Even Bob Howsam had shortcomings. His failure to embrace free agency helped hasten the Reds demise from super team to also-rans. Thirty years after the famous 1975 World Series, “The Big Red Machine” still casts a very long shadow in the Ohio Valley. Every Reds team has been, and will be always measured against them.

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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    Very sad indeed.

    Howsam was born on Feb. 29 (leap year), 1918.
    1918 was not a leap year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_leap_years
    When all is said and done more is said than done.

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    Quote Originally Posted by dabvu2498 View Post
    Very sad indeed.



    1918 was not a leap year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_leap_years
    I saw that right away too - I've got a friend who will be celebrating her 22nd February 29th birthday, born in 1920.
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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    This time the new owners were successful, luring Howsam away from the Cardinals, on January 22nd 1966.
    My one-year old birthday present, who knew, as this hiring allowed me the privilege of cutting my baseball teeth on some of the best baseball ever played.

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    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    I dont think the baseball world realizes what a genius Bob Howsam was.

    Sad day indeed!!
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    Oh, wow.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    RIP Mr. Howsam. He's another one that should be in the Hall of Fame. He built two World Championship franchises in St. Louis and then Cincinnati. He also came back to the Reds after the Dick Wagner debacle and brought respectability back the Reds franchise. He was really a genius at building a good solid minor league foundation. Something most GM's know nothing about these days. Hopefully he and Nuxhall will someday take their rightful place in Cooperstown.
    Reds Fan Since 1971

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    Baseball card addict MrCinatit's Avatar
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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    Very depressing news.
    I wonder how many of us would have lambasted some of his moves when they were made? "Who is supposed to play first with May gone now? And Helms is a much better than the guy they got from the Astros. They guy's 5'7"!"


    May he rest in peace.

    QUOTE=cumberlandreds;1554951]RIP Mr. Howsam. He's another one that should be in the Hall of Fame. He built two World Championship franchises in St. Louis and then Cincinnati. He also came back to the Reds after the Dick Wagner debacle and brought respectability back the Reds franchise. He was really a genius at building a good solid minor league foundation. Something most GM's know nothing about these days. Hopefully he and Nuxhall will someday take their rightful place in Cooperstown.[/QUOTE]

    I agree. Without him, there is no BRM.

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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    Quote Originally Posted by MrCinatit View Post
    Very depressing news.
    I wonder how many of us would have lambasted some of his moves when they were made? "Who is supposed to play first with May gone now? And Helms is a much better than the guy they got from the Astros. They guy's 5'7"!"


    May he rest in peace.

    QUOTE=cumberlandreds;1554951]RIP Mr. Howsam. He's another one that should be in the Hall of Fame. He built two World Championship franchises in St. Louis and then Cincinnati. He also came back to the Reds after the Dick Wagner debacle and brought respectability back the Reds franchise. He was really a genius at building a good solid minor league foundation. Something most GM's know nothing about these days. Hopefully he and Nuxhall will someday take their rightful place in Cooperstown.
    I agree. Without him, there is no BRM.[/QUOTE]

    If their was an internet in 1972 I'm sure that trade would have been lambasted up one side and down the other. May was very popular as was Helms to a lesser extint. It wasn't viewed at the time as a not very smart trade at all. Morgan was considered someone who had not and would not reach his potential;Billingham was just an average pitcher at best,Menke a very average third baseman with no power and the rest were pretty much unknown. Yep,Redzone would have probably melted down after that trade.
    Reds Fan Since 1971

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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    RIP, Bob Howsam. You were a great one.
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
    Fame is man given: be thankful.
    Conceit is self given: be careful.

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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    He never did achieve his dream of making a ballpark smell like a cinnamon bun, but he was one of the greats.

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    Re: Bob Howsam Passes Away at 90

    RIP Mr. Howsam. Your creation of the Big Red Machine is talked about today among Reds fans as the greatest Cincinnati sports team in the history of the city.
    If you think small, you'll go nowhere in life.


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