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Former Reds GM Howsam focused on World Series

G. Sean Kelly
GSPI Sports Editor

Bob Howsam won’t be sitting in the owner’s box wringing his hands during tonight’s Game 3 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox, but there is little doubt he will have an eye on the television.

Howsam watches the world series as a fan now, in the company of friends or his wife, Janet.

“There’s a big screen (at the retirement community) and I watch it there,” Howsam said in a telephone interview from his home in Sun City, Ariz., prior to Saturday’s Game 1. “And sometimes it’s nice to sit back in a rocking chair and watch it, because Mrs. Howsam is a great baseball fan and a very knowledgeable one.”

That’s no small praise coming from Howsam. The Colorado native and part-time Glenwood Springs resident won back-to-back Fall Classics with Cincinnati in 1975-76 as the general manager of the Reds and helped the Cardinals to a World Series win in 1964 when St. Louis upset the New York Yankees.

“Yes, I’m pulling for the Cardinals. Actually I have a very soft spot for them,” Howsam said of his former team. “But the Red Sox fans have been wonderful. I saw them freezing to death (in the American League Championship Series) and some of them were praying ” you realize how dedicated they are.”

Although he helped bring a World Series title to St. Louis ” and hopes to see another championship there this month ” Howsam is best known for being the architect of the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati during his tenures as GM from 1967-78 and 1983-84. With players including Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and manager Sparky Anderson, the Reds were considered the dominant team of the ’70s and, some argue, one of the best teams of all time. Cincinnati racked up six division titles, four National League pennants and a pair of World Series championships under Howsam.

The run in the ’70s earned Howsam an induction into the Reds Hall of Fame with 1970s All-Star outfielder Ken Griffey Sr. and 19th century ace pitcher Will White in August. Howsam is just the second front-office inductee into the Reds’ Hall.

“It was a tremendous honor,” Howsam said of the induction, which also offered the former GM a chance to catch up with old friends and about 30 former employees who made the trip. “When peers and writers and broadcasters select you, it always makes you proud. And when you get older, you become even more pleased about having that recognition showed to you.”

Howsam hesitates to compare the Big Red Machine to today’s teams, believing accurate comparisons can be made only in 10-year blocks due to changes in everything from equipment to the height of the mound to style of game.

Still, he says, “As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best team I’ve ever seen, but I’m prejudiced.”

And, while it’s tough to make direct comparisons, there are similarities between the ’70s Reds and this year’s World Series teams.

“The Big Red Machine had great balance and I think you have to have great balance to win,” Howsam said Saturday. “Of the two teams in the World Series, I think the Cardinals have the best balance. … But, of course, in a short series like the World Series, the Red Sox have a couple of good pitchers.”

After the first two games, Howsam’s call looks on the mark ” the pitching is winning out over the balance.


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