100 Greatest Phillies: 31 – Larry Bowa

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, February 24, 2009 03:33 PM | Comments: 14
100 Greatest Phillies, Posts

Larry Bowa

Career w/Phillies: .263 AVG / 13 HR / 421 RBI / 288 SB

Not many players epitomize Philadelphia quite like Larry Bowa. The long-time shortstop entered the city in 1970 and helped to open Veterans Stadium with its first hit. He continued his career through the franchise’s best seasons, helping to lead the team to its first world championship in 1980. Through it all, he gave his most to the team, getting on base, stealing bases, diving for balls, speaking out, raising hell. His best seasons came with the division titles, as he hit .305 in 1975 (a year before the first crown) and .294 in 1978. He also stole a ton of bases – more than 30 three times and more than 20 a handful more. In 1974 he actually stole more bases than the number of runners he drove in. Combine those leadoff man numbers with strong defense and leadership and you have a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. Of course, he was a coach who managed the Phillies between 2001 and ’04, but didn’t quite gel with his players.

Comment: Bowa was one of the hardest players to peg for this list. I thought he belonged in the top 50 because of his leadership, name value, leadoff skills and defensive ability. But to me, Bowa wasn’t one of the franchise’s truly legendary players. Compare him, if you will, to Jimmy Rollins. In a shorter period of time, Rollins has trumped Bowa in practically all of his most redeeming qualities, and is a much more productive offensive player. Ultimately, that is why Bowa comes in here and not a little higher, toward Rollins.

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Tim Malcolm has written 1947 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Mr. A-Hole

    I miss Larry, he was fun to watch. It’s probably best he left town though because these pansy players couldn’t take his brutal truth and in-your-face abrasiveness.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    My first experience with the Phils was Bowa going toe-to-toe with the ump as manager… Fun times…

  • Posts: 0 Justin

    Good guy and if not for your comments at the bottom of the article Tim I would have thought it crazy not to have him higher. But understanding what he lacked when you compare him to Rollins this position makes sense.

  • Posts: 0 Jim

    I find it interesting you are not including managers on this list. Bowa was a manager and you have not mentioned his years which leads me to believe you arent including managers.

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    No, I’m not including managers.

  • Posts: 0 BurrGundy

    This was a guy that Jim Bunning called “A Red Ass,” meaning that he was always hyper and on alert for everything and anything during a game. Nobody, except for Pete Rose, trash talked like Bowa. He loved being a major league ballplayer, gave it everything he had, and was a winner. He surely got the most out of his talent.

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    When I first moved to the Philly area, Larry was soon the new SS. Listening to him go on and on, whining, I dubbed him “Mary” Bowa – it seemed his mouth was always running and the early years his hitting was sub par (he was a .250 hitter at best). Now to my favorite Bowa moment:
    It was VS the Montreal Expos and Gene Mauch, an afternoon game, probably a Sunday. The Phils had 2 men on base and Mauch decided to walk I believe it was Gary Maddox to get to Bowa. Bowa was up with the bases loaded and meekly grounded out.
    The next at bat for Larry and lo and behold the same situation, Mauch had his pitcher walk the bases loaded to pitch to Bowa. I remember Whitey said “If he could hit the ball to left center it’ll go a long way..” and that is exactly what he did, a bases clearing triple! To finish the story, as Bowa slid into 3rd and popped up standing he put his left hand on the inside of his right elbow and saluted the Expos – with his index finger pointing to someone (!) in the Expo dugout – classic! Whitey said he didn’t quite know what that meant but it was hillarious regardless…
    From that point on I totally respected the little generalisimo.

  • Posts: 0 ashmidt

    brooks, thats a pretty good memory. i remember he hit a bases loaded triple and did a pop up slide and flipped mauch the bird, mauch used to really ride him calling him a little leaguer amongst other names. in the 69 expansion draft the phillies could protect 15 players, and they protected bowa because they knew mauch was very fond of him and would have taken him if they didnt. he was the heart and soul of those 70s teams, he was the beginning with boone and the bull to follow then schmidt and cash, i dont think pete rose would have come here except for bowa. hes a philly legend and always will be, he would look like a pretty good mgr if he had this phillies lineup, that one year he got killed with burrell. byrd and bell. they did not do anything, really cant blame him for lashing out. to me he is the epitomee of a baseball lifer. you go bo.

  • Posts: 0 shag beta sigma delta

    Growing up first in NJ then in Pa throughout the 70′s went to a ton of games when the phillies were bad at the Vet, box seats form Sears third base line. He was my favorite Phillies starting when i was about seven, I used to choke up on the bat just like him in little league, he was awesome. I may be wrong but didn’t he either lead the league in feilding percentage, or have some record of most games or chances without an error. I know he did not have Ozzie Smith range or JRoll for that matter, but if he got to the ball he rarely made an error. Can’t Blame you for not putting him higher but on my personal list he will always be my favorite, which I can not say for this team cause I like them all, can’t wait for opening day see you all there

  • Posts: 0 ashmidt

    13 hrs, i know ONE was a grand slam against the reds,AND when he went by rose at 3rd rose said something wise to him, i never saw that before. spring training in the early to mid 80s cubs versus twins, billy williams and harmon killebrew ARE COACHES, SOMEONE SAYS GET A PICTUE OF THEM TOGETHER 1000 HRS, THEY COUNTED THEM UP AND IT CAME TO 999 HRS, WILLIAMS SAID GET BOWA OVER HERE HE HIT ONE.

  • Posts: 0 Tom G

    heart and soul!

  • Posts: 0 Rob Cowie

    In an unspecific interviw, he mentioned how growing up he was merely an above average ball player. It wasn’t until he reached minor league level when ‘had to work harder than everyone else’ to become major leaguer. I think that is what his motivation and resultant tenacity on the field was translated from. Bowa worked extra hard, and knew it, to become a great player. When he got to the Phils as an everday player, that swagger he exhibited on the field must have felt as his resultant perogitive to his hard work paying off.

  • Posts: 0 Dan L

    Rob makes an excellent point. And I believe that is exactly why he was an ineffective manager for us before Cholly got here. Basically, he expected everyone to be as tenacious and hard-working as he was as a player. These expectations, coupled with his short temper, distanced himself from all of the softies we had on those teams of babies (i.e., Scott Rolen, Bobby Abreu, etc.).

    Larry Bowa is an amazing look at the old “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” type of story. However, being so independent and in-your-face, translated into a tough stretch as a manager in Philadelphia.

    In today’s game, the most effective people at the helm of a team are people like Cholly. They’re laid back. Larry Bowa is anything but laid back haha, but that’s why we love him.

  • Posts: 0 Billylick

    best defensive shortstop in my life time but JRoll may change my mind. JRoll better hitter but it was watching larry hit those in the park home runs.

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