PHILADELPHIA -- Larry Bowa's fiery personality was a perfect
fit as a player on Philadelphia's 1980 championship team. It was
too much for the Phillies he managed, though, and it was one reason
he was fired Saturday, a day before the end of yet another
"There were times over the last four years where there were
players who haven't been able to adjust to his style," general
manager Ed Wade said.
The Phillies failed to reach the playoffs for the 11th straight
season after coming in as favorites to win the NL East. They were
85-75 when Bowa was dismissed before a game against Florida.
When Wade arrived at the ballpark, he received a call from Bowa,
who wanted to discuss his status amid speculation that the manager
would be fired at the end of the season.
"He said he's been getting inundated with questions about his
job status and wanted to know sooner rather than later," Wade
Wade chose sooner, dumping Bowa with a year left on his
"I guess it was coming, but there's never a right time,"
closer Billy Wagner said. "It was just a pleasure to play for Bo
and I enjoyed it. I hate to see it come to this."
Added left fielder Pat Burrell: "It's a tough situation. You
spend a lot of time with him. I was here when he got here."
Bench coach Gary Varsho managed the Phillies in their 4-3 loss to Florida on Saturday night. He also will manage Sunday. The fate of the rest of the coaching staff will be
determined this week, and the search for a manager will be
"Ed determined it and made the decision, but it's one I
support," team president Dave Montgomery said. "Ed came and told
me his decision, but in no way am I going to wash my hands of this
Bowa showered and left without taking questions, though he left
a statement thanking the Phillies for the opportunity to manage and
wished them luck.
Earlier in the day, Bowa met with the media after reports said
he would be fired at the end of the season and that pitching coach
Joe Kerrigan would resign.
"I'm not talking about it," Bowa said then. "You guys have
all speculated. You all have your unidentified sources. You
probably know more than I do, which is pretty good."
Asked about his future, Kerrigan said, "I won't have anything
to say until after the season."
Bowa led the Phillies to consecutive winning seasons for the
first time in 21 years, but it wasn't enough.
A popular figure in Philadelphia, he helped the Phillies win
their only World Series championship as a shortstop on the 1980
team. But Bowa wasn't well-liked by his players.
His fiery personality and win-at-all-costs mentality clashed
with a few of the laid-back players, who also didn't appreciate
some of the manager's facial expressions in the dugout when things
Bowa toned his act down during the pennant race last season, but
the Phillies collapsed down the stretch, losing six in a row with
eight games left to waste a half-game lead over eventual World
Series champion Florida in the NL wild-card race.
He didn't have any publicized run-ins with players this season,
but management decided to make the much-anticipated change.
Bowa did have a shouting match with a beat writer before the
The Phillies went 19-8 in September, but it was too late to make
a big move in the standings.
The high-strung Bowa, who has had confrontations with several
players during his four seasons -- most notably ex-Phillies Scott
Rolen and Tyler Houston -- has been much more subdued in recent
"I absolutely think Larry tried hard to change and he did
change," Wade said.
Perhaps not enough.
Wade declined to give Bowa an endorsement in late August, and
Bowa said he learned to live with speculation about his job status
before calling Philadelphia "the only city in baseball that the
manager gets fired for three or four-game losing streaks."
The Phillies were expected to contend for a title this season
with a $93 million payroll and a new All-Star closer, a revamped
bullpen and a promising starting rotation.
Injuries and inconsistency, though, spoiled the first season in
their new ballpark. Bowa said the season would have been different
if three-fifths of the starting rotation and key relievers had not
missed chunks of the season with injuries.
"Take a look at what we did. We did a good job with what we
had," Bowa said. "Do I want to win the division? Yup. But when
you have a hand that's dealt that way, you do the best you can."
Overall, pitchers Kevin Millwood, Randy Wolf and Vicente Padilla
-- three former All-Stars -- missed about 35 starts. Ryan Madson was
sidelined more than a month and Billy Wagner was out almost 11
weeks, spanning two stints on the disabled list.
Wade -- who refused to use the injuries as an excuse -- didn't
make any significant trades during the season, signing journeyman
starter Paul Abbott and acquiring starter Cory Lidle and relievers
Todd Jones and Felix Rodriguez. The four pitched poorly in key
games when the Phillies were still in the race.
Bowa succeeded Terry Francona as manager before the 2001 season.
Bowa was 337-308 with the Phillies. He had an 81-127 record in 1½
seasons with San Diego in 1987-88.
Bowa was the NL manager of the year in his first season in
Philadelphia, leading the Phillies to 86 wins and a second-place
finish, just two games behind Atlanta.