October 30, 1992: Two weeks after becoming the youngest General Manager in baseball history (at the time), Jim Bowden pulls off a public relations coups by naming Tony Perez manager of the Reds.
Lou Piniella had resigned as Reds manager on October 6 to become manager of the Seattle Mariners. Piniella had won the 1990 World Series in his first season as Reds manager, having replaced Tommy Helms, who had replaced the banned Pete Rose on August 24, 1989. Piniella had helped the Reds erase the public humiliation of Rose and the Reds with the 1990 wire-to-wire Reds championship. An injury-riddled 1991 led to a 74 win season in 1991, but the Reds rebounded to win 92 games in 1972, finishing in second place, eight games behind the Atlanta Braves. However, Piniella had grown weary of the Reds/Marge Schott circus and took his popular management style to Seattle where he stayed 10 years, including winning 116 games for the 2001 Mariners.
Two days after Piniella resigned from the Reds, Schott fired Reds general manager Bob Quinn. and promoted Bowden eight days later. Despite being only 31, Bowden had worked in baseball front offices with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1984-88) and with the New York Yankees in 1989 before joining the Reds organization.
Hall of Famer Tony Perez was/is an all-time favorite of many Reds fans. Nicknamed “Big Doggie” the slugging first baseman was known for his clutch hitting, his 379 home runs, and his ability to keep balance in the Big Red Machine clubhouse. After being traded to the Montreal Expos before the 1977 season, Perez played for three teams besides the Reds for seven seasons before returning to Cincinnati as a free agent to play his final three seasons in a Reds uniform. He immediately became a coach and served on the staffs of Rose, Helms, and Piniella.
Having Perez available was an opportune moment for the Reds. From “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder:
Many fans were upset about the resignation of Piniella, but the hiring of the popular Perez quickly rekindled enthusiasm. At the time, Marge Schott was under investigation by the commissioner’s office for her hiring practices and use of racial and ethnic slurs. While Perez was a highly-qualified candidate, cynics wondered if Perez was hired only to placate Major League Baseball.
No matter the reason, hiring Perez was like gold to the Reds fan base. However, like fool’s gold, the joy was short-lived. In February, 2003, MLB suspended Schott for one year from Reds day-to-day operations and fined her $25,000 for making racial and ethnic slurs. With a new management team in place and high expectations from everyone after the 1992 rebound year, the Reds lost nine of their first 11 games to start the season. They rebounded to cross .500 at 19-18 and then went on west coast road trip where they lost six of seven games dropping them to 20-24. Bowden called Perez and fired him over the phone. From “Redleg Journal:”
Continue reading This Day in Reds History: Reds Hire Tony Perez and Ray Knight as Managers