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John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Howsam dies

Bob Howsam, the architect of the Big Red Machine, has died.

Howsam was the Reds general manager from 1967 to 1978 and again from 1983-84. He also served at chief operating officer from 1973-78 and 1983-85.

Howsam was 89 years old.

He was responsible for building the team that won the 1975 and ’76 World Series.
Howsam came to the Reds after a stint as GM of the St. Louis Cardinals.

He hired Sparky Anderson in 1970. In 1972, Howsam made the big trade with the Houston Astros, getting Joe Morgan, Jack Billingham and Cesar Geronimo – three key components of the World Championship teams.

Howsam was elected to the Reds Hall of Fame in 2004.

From the Reds:

Bob Howsam, universally recognized as the architect of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine of the 1970s, died this morning of heart failure in Sun City, Arizona. He was 9 days shy of his 90th birthday.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete, though a celebration of his life will be planned in the next few days. It will be held in Sun City.

"Cincinnati was his second home. He had some of his greatest successes there, and the city was always dear to him," said Howsam's son, Robert Howsam Jr.. "While Pops recognized the importance of the players and ownership in baseball, he always felt pleasing the fans should be the number one goal, whether it be concessions, parking or the experience at the ballpark. That was his guiding light, his main message."

Howsam was the club’s general manager from 1967-78 and again from 1983-84, but he also served as president and chief operating officer from 1973-78 and 1983-85. He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in August 2004.

Under Howsam’s direction, the Reds were baseball’s dominant team in the 1970s, a decade during which they won 6 Western Division titles, 4 National League pennants and World Series championships in 1975 and 1976. That team’s starting lineup of Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion, Pete Rose, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo and Griffey earned 63 All-Star selections, 6 Most Valuable Player awards and 26 Gold Gloves.

While he was known as one of baseball’s most shrewd traders, Howsam also was credited with making the Reds’ minor league system one of the strongest in the game. In 1973, he was named Major League Executive of the Year by The Sporting News.

While presiding over the team’s move from Crosley Field to Riverfront Stadium in 1970, Howsam expanded the front office staff and established promotional and public relations programs that would be necessary for success in the new park, including the Straight-A ticket program. He also was a member of Major League Baseball’s executive and player relations committees. Howsam retired on July 1, 1985 but remained with the team for 17 months as a special consultant.

Reds President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini said, "Mr. Howsam played a very important role in the long history of this proud franchise. He put together an organization that became the model for all of baseball. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."


at 1:52 PM Anonymous redsfanwoody said...

Sorry to hear that. I will be forever grateful for the teams he put together when I was growing up.

at 1:54 PM Anonymous BigRedOne said...

It is a disgrace to the National Baseball Hall of Fame that this man is not in the executive wing. My condolences to his family.

at 1:57 PM OpenID kjbnastynati51 said...

sad to hear

any news of the happenings of this morning's workout

at 4:44 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

For that era of baseball, Bob was the best GM, bar none. If the Reds had kept to his ideals and applied them to today's world they would still be the best.

at 6:04 PM Blogger Dave in Omaha said...

from the all black shoes to the low stirrup socks to the no facial hair....He hired Sparky, traded for Morgan,Billingham & Geronimo...

He was the architect that made being a kid in Cincinnati in the summertime in the mid 70's a special time...Glory Days!

at 7:15 PM Blogger Mr. Redlegs said...

Let's see if I have this right:

A market that pines breathlessly for the glory days of the Big Red Machine, a market that lives precariously in the past to the extent of actually peering mournfully over its shoulder at almost any semblance of sports success, and the very man responsible for ending 35 years of misery and setting the standard for Cincinnati baseball forever passes away and all he gets is five comments?

What does that say?

at 8:14 PM Blogger Showtime said...

I hear you Mr. Redlegs. I'm only 25 years old, so I never got to experience the glory days of the Big Red Machine, but I can tell you that I look at that era with awe and pride as a Reds fan. Although I never got to experience that firsthand, I feel it's a shame that he isn't in the Hall of Fame and that there isn't more discussion about his contributions. The maverick moves he made and willingness to think outside the box and take chances is something that many teams today could really use in their front-offices.

at 9:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can they have an executive wing to the hall of fame and not have Howsam? In the history of baseball has there ever been a better executive? Branch Rickey may have been more important, but I can't think of one guy who did a better job putting together a team than Howsam. No one. He shoud have been in Cooperstown years ago - its a travesty. I'm extremely sorry to hear of his passing. He meant a lot to the city. 30+ years later, the Big Red Machine is still a source of much needed pride for many in the tri-state.

at 10:13 PM Anonymous redsfanwoody said...

Wow! I am too shocked by the lack of comments on this post.

I thinks it says unless there's a post about Krvisky/Baker/Dunn/Griffey it's not worth commenting for most folks.

I hope I am wrong but that's what it feels like to me.

at 1:36 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

He built the greatest team of all time, and by doing so made my father a fan of the Reds. - Probably the only thing me and my old man agree on is the Reds.

Thank you for giving us something to talk about around the dinner table Mr. Howsam.

Rest in peace Bob.

Christopher in North Dakota

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