Bronco founder Howsam dies at 89 |

Bronco founder Howsam dies at 89

Dan ElliottAssociated Press WriterGlenwood Springs CO Colorado

DENVER Bob Howsam, the man who gave baseball its Big Red Machine and gave Denver its beloved Broncos, died Tuesday in Sun City, Ariz. He was 89.Howsam lived in Sun City, Ariz., and had been having heart problems, said his son, Robert Howsam of Colorado Springs.Howsams career bridged two sports and several leagues, and even his short-time jobs produced success: Between co-founding the Broncos in 1959 and joining the Reds in 1967, he was general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals when they won the 1964 World Series over the New York Yankees. Howsam later was a member of the Colorado Baseball Commission, which helped bring the Rockies and major league baseball to Denver.Howsam is a legend to Colorado sports, but few know the impact the famous sports figure had on Glenwood Springs. Howsam moved to Glenwood in the 1960s and lived in his home on Sunny Acres by the Glenwood Springs Golf Course off and on for more than 40 years.He really was a famous figure but you couldnt meet someone who was more down to earth, said Allen Thulson, a neighboor of Howsams for over 25 years.Despite frequent stays in Denver and Cincinnati, Howsam cared about the Glenwood community. He and his wife attended local sporting events and Tim Thulson, Allens son, even remembers him speaking to Glenwood Springs High School athletes at a banquet in 1979 when the Demons won state titles in football and basketball.He was always very supportive of the local sports programs, said Carol Thulson, Allens wife and Tims mother. He and his wife Janet went to a lot of games, they even came to our sons Little League games.Allen Thulson, who was Glenwood Springs city attorney in the 1970s, credits Howsam with the development of Two Rivers Park. The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad owned land where Two Rivers Park is today, but it leased it to a limestone company, which made it into what Allen Thulson called an eyesore for the city.The city needed land for a park, but couldnt get the railroad to give it up. Enter Howsam.He greased the skids to get the railroad to give the land to the city, Allen said.Tim Thulson said Howsam moved to Glenwood because he loved the Hot Springs Pool, but ended up changing the lives of many in its community. Tim said he helped him get into law school at the University of Colorado, while Carol said he gave away Rockies tickets and even entertained the Thulson family in Cincinnati.He was actually always looking for things to do for other people. He was so giving, as was his wife, Carol said.Ray Schmahl, another of Howsams neighbors, also had the upmost praise for the man.He was an absolute prince and a gentleman, said Schmahl.A Denver native, Howsam started his sports career in 1947 as owner of the Denver Bears of the Single-A Western League, later taking the team to Triple-A as a New York Yankees affiliate, his son said.Howsam spearheaded the construction of Bears Stadium, which would later be expanded to become Mile High Stadium, the Broncos first permanent home.Howsam helped found the American Football League in 1959 and was principal owner of the Broncos. His co-owners included his brother Lee.Without Bob Howsam, the Broncos would not exist, thats all there is to it, Broncos spokesman Jim Saccomano said.The new team struggled, going 4-9-1 in the inaugural 1960 season and 3-11 in the next. The Howsams sold the Broncos in 1961, but the franchise went on to become an enormous draw in Denver, routinely selling out home games.Howsam landed with the Cardinals in 1964 and was instrumental in the trade that brought Orlando Cepeda to St. Louis early in the 1966 season. Howsam had left for Cincinnati when Cepeda helped the Cardinals win the 1967 World Series and the 1968 pennant.In Cincinnati, Howsam is credited with building the Big Red Machine, one of the most dominating teams in baseball history.Led by future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Morgan, and spurred by Pete Rose, the Big Red Machine won back-to-back World Series in 1975-76. They also captured four NL pennants and won six division titles in the 1970s.He put together an organization that became the model for all of baseball, said Bob Castellini, the Reds president and chief executive officer.He built a reputation as a visionary who pioneered the use of film to hone a hitters swing, expanded the use of artificial turf and orchestrated blockbuster trades such as the one that brought Joe Morgan to the Reds in 1971.But his guiding principle was that the fans came first, his son said.He loved the fans. They made his life, the son said.Howsam was nominated for the baseball Hall of Fame in the executives/pioneers category last year but fell short of the 75 percent of votes required for admission.AP sports writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Associated Press writer Ivan Moreno in Denver and Post Independent writer Joelle Milholm contributed to this report.

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