“Padres-Smiles & Sadness on Sunday”
It was like the Winter Baseball Meetings, but only outdoors. Baseball execs everywhere, managers on hand, former players, media, and fans milling.
They came to Petco Park, not to make deals, but to honor the late Padres General Manager Kevin Towers, who passed away last month after a 15-month battle with cancer.
Larry Lucchino, the super exec, and managers Bruce Bochy and Bud Black were there.
Bryan Cashman of the Yankees, Theo Espstien of the Cubs,
Walt Jocketty of the Reds, Tony LaRussa, the former A’s-Cardinals icon, Ned Colette of the Dodgers, Jed Hoyer of Chicago, Sandy Alderson of the Mets, Paul DiPodesta, now in the NFL, became part of all this.
Legendary players Kirk Gibson, Hall of Fame Trevor Hoffman, and Phil Kevin took part. Guys he traded for, David Wells, Wally Joyner were there.
A throng of working media, and upwards of 500-fans made their way into Petco Park too.
Scouts from all different eras came to support Towers wife, Kelly, and family and friends.
His closest friends, Padres exec Fred Uhlman and agent Barry Axlerod spoke of good times, bad times, fun times, mad times too.
They played his favorite Country Western tunes, laughed at stories of baseball, road trips, meetings and drinking parties. They wept at the podium at the sadness we all ached about.
They told the story of how Towers, who was ripped by Axlerod, tried to deal away an Axelrod client, who had a no trade clause. They laughed at a traffic stop, when Towers driving, was pulled over by a patrol officer, a former Padres minor leaguer, Towers had released.
A gospel singing group opened with the hymn ‘Amen’…and closed with ‘Thank You for being a friend’.
22-spoke at the special service in a stadium that resembled a baseball cathedral.
It was a 2-and a half hour Baseball Tent Revival meeting, restoring your faith in people, the goodness of the game, the specialness of Kevin Towers, and all his relationships, in and out of the game.
The best quotes of the day…
Mark Sweeney-Broadcaster..He was a pillar of baseball brotherhood.
Mark Grant-Broadcaster..A good time guy, who used to say ‘sprinkle the infield with another round of drinks.
Ron Fowler-Owner..Petco would not have been built without the 1998-World Series team that Kevin built.
Peter Seidler-Owner..Kevin was a super inclusive guy….fearless-optimist-in his fight against cancer.
Larry Lucchino-President..He was generous-honest-decent-fun loving…he had candor-modesty and great judgement….he had an eye for talent…brought a culture on board linking baseball and business…fearless making the bold moves
Walt Jochetty-Reds..KT bonded with all types of GM-he made us one….he registered at a hotel under the name ‘Otis Campbell’ the town drunk on Andy of Mayberry.
Brian Cashman-Yankees..He was like a college buddy….called me ‘Sugar Daddy’….Lived like a king..married a queen…enjoyed everyday of life…but was a max effort guy…a baseball treasure.
Fred Uhlman-Padres..He put people above all …he connected with hot young execs….valued players as people…..took a two month window to live and made it a 15-month battle.
Barry Axelrod-Agent…Greatest accomplishment-in 35-years-never heard a person say a bad thing about him….He was unmatched with his courage and dignity….He was a hero for way he treated people-his legacy-he made people better around him.
Theo Epstein-Cubs…He was a friend-boss-a mentor…He was wired differently….Treated you all as equal and would drag you into his orbit….He was incredible….He empowered people to do their job…We had a front row seat at he built the Padres….He inspired loyalty.
Bill Brick-Scout…Part of Foxhole guys…he built a circle of trust.
Dennis Gilbert-Agent..He developed the Scouts Foundation to help all those old timers…convinced all the GMs to come on board.
Todd Green-Scout…he loved the city, baseball, his wife and his bulldogs.
Ryan Issacs-Scout…He was positive, transparent, authentic with a rolodex of integrity.
Bill Gayton-Scout..Such a spirit
Charles Kerfeld-Scout..You didn’t work for KT..you worked with KT.
Phil Nevin-Player..Our moments made me better….Great leaders develop great leaders.
Bruce Bochy-Manager..He was a bulldog on the mound…he did so much for so many people….taught you how to live life right to the end.
Bud Black-Manager….Never forget the competitor in him….a baseball man to the end.
Kirk Gibson….He’d wear the horns when he accomplished things in life and in baseball.
Trevor Hoffman-Player..He was superstitious…he loved being a baseball guy….Bet he’s up there scouting saints now.
It was Padres baseball history, honoring the club legacy, at its best.
We laughed at stories, we cried at memories, and we remembered.
It was a classy day honoring a classy person.
Gunslinger-Bulldog-Kevin Towers. Good baseball man-greater person.