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."