Bob Howsam, the former Reds general manager and the man credited with building the “Big Red Machine” dynasty in the 1970s, died on Tuesday. He was 89 years old.
Howsam, who was to turn 90 on Feb. 29, died at his home in Sun City, Ariz.
n 1967, Howsam joined the Reds organization as GM, replacing Bill DeWitt, and later became president and chief executive officer from 1973-78. During his tenure, the Reds returned to greatness after decades of not winning anything. The club won six division titles, four National League pennants and back-to-back World Series championships in 1975-76.
Among the players developed under Howsam’s leadership were Davey Concepcion, Ken Griffey Sr. and Don Gullett. He also traded for Joe Morgan and George Foster.
The Sporting News’ Major League Executive of the Year in 1973, Howsam also presided over the Reds’ move from Crosley Field to Riverfront Stadium in 1970. He expanded the front office and created public relations programs like the Straight-A Student Program that rewarded hard work in school.
Senior clubhouse manager Bernie Stowe, who has been with the Reds since 1947, said Howsam’s family had been planning a 90th birthday party. Stowe said he and his wife, Priscilla, had signed a baseball last week and sent it to Arizona.
“He treated you like a human,” Stowe said. “He liked the little guys that worked for him. If I screwed up on a uniform and made one without a last name, he’d cover it up for me. You always went out of your way just for him.”
Before joining the Reds, Howsam’s baseball resume dated back to 1948, when he ran the Minor League Denver Bears after his family purchased the team. In 1964, he was hired by Branch Rickey to be GM of the Cardinals, where he remained until 1966.
Howsam resigned from leading the Reds’ baseball operations on Feb. 16, 1978, and was replaced by Dick Wagner. He held the title of vice chairman of the board until he returned to running the club from 1983-85 upon Marge Schott becoming the owner.
In 2004, Howsam was elected to the Reds Hall of Fame.
Redleg Nation would like to send their condolences to the Howsam family.
As someone that grew up in Cincinnati during the Big Red Machine era, it was an amazing time to be a baseball fan. Teams like that will never be seen again and Mr. Howsam was the brains behind the organization during that era.
I’ve been a Reds fan since the late ’60’s, with my luck of being able to attend plenty of games at Riverfront during the BRM era. I was sitting in the Green Seats in the OF when Pete came home in ’84 and was in the Red seats when Glenn Braggs reached over the fence in ’90 to beat the Pirates. I have had many favorites from Jim Maloney to Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin, Adam Dunn, and Jay Bruce.