“Padres-Cry & Celebrate”
by Lee ‘Hacksaw’ Hamilton.com
Kevin Towers left us too early.
The longtime General Manager of the Padres, who built 4-division winners, and watched his teams get to the World Series, passed at the age of 56-after a fierce fight with cancer over the last 14-months.
Those of us around the Padres, and who knew Towers well, knew for over a year about his war with thyroid cancer.
His courageous battle with an insidious disease, that took him in and out of the UCSD-Cancer treatment centers, took him to a European treatment program and one Mexico.
Tumors, chemo, experimental drugs. The thyroid issue became complicated when they discovered a tumor near his heart. What was supposed to be weeks left, became 3-months, then six, then a year and beyond. His fortitude to deal with this day in-day out, was amazing.
He loved baseball, so much so, he went to spring training last year to visit with the Padres before becoming ill again and having go return to the hospital.
He came to Petco Park and sat in the dugout before a World Baseball Classic game, and met with us in the media. We turned to him as we left, and I pounded my heart and pointed at him-a sign of respect and affection we all had.
He came to a private media Christmas party a bunch of us attended.
His spirit never wavered, even if his immune system did. A number of us were asked never to discuss his disease in public. And with his strength to fight this horrible fight, we also learned his wife a breast cancer surgery.
Kevin Towers was a bulldog, a scrapper, a fighter. As a pitcher, then a scout, then an execuative.
He worked for good owners, bad owners. He had to find players, survive firesafes, and yet discover talent, lots of talent.
He knew the art of deals.
He inherited Tony Gwynn Under his watch Trevor Hoffman became a Hall of Fame reliever.
Here came Ken Camminiti, Steve Finley, Wally Joiner, Greg Vaughn, Kevin Brown, Phil Nevin, Ryan Klekso, Greg Maddux and Ricky Henderson.
His relationship with baseball lifers like Jack McKeon and Sandy Alderson gave him different insights.
He saw things no one saw in a journeyman catcher Bruce Bochy, likely a Hall of Famer, as a manager.. Ditto for the left-handed pitcher Bud Black.
He was demanding, asking his pitchers to retaliate when this batters were beaned.
He was combative, once confronting me when I asked on the air, ‘what’s the bleeping blueprint’ when he brought in 39-pitchers to a spring training camp, never saying hello to me, just starting the conversation with ‘the bleeping blueprint is ____’, and then started laughing.
He disliked the Dodgers so much, but was so rewarded when the Padres beat the Dodgers three straight to win the division.
There was a warm side too. Forever an old school scout, he started the Scout’s Dinner in Los Angels with other baseball execs, to benefit lifelong scouts, who were left with no pensions or life’s savings after a career on the road.
And he knew our job too, the media, he got it, and he gave us lots of background information and strong opinions too.
Unknown and forgotten by many, Kevin Towers was the first to sound off about steroids and the need for drug testing, back in the early 1990’s, drawing scorn from people like Bud Selig and Donald Fehr.
Years later we had the Mitchell Report, then suspensions, then drug testing, and how the Hall of Fame boycott of PED users..
He was many things to many people. More importantly, he was good and honest and a believer in the Grand Old Game.
Kevin and Kelly Towers would come to spring training with a pet bulldog, allowed to run around camp and in the hallways of the complex upstairs.
His nickname on his Email account was ‘Gunslinger’.
That’s who he was, and he accomplished so much, with suck adversity around him.
It was as if he was a pitcher, fighting thru every inning, with lots of men on base, but always getting out of it.
That till he ran out of gas in the bottom of the ninth battle with cancer.
With tears in our eyes, so many of us feel sad this baseball day. I hope the Padres find way to put a “KT” emblem on their jerseys this year.
And it’s eerie, on a day we all mourn his passing, we get to enjoy and watch the Mr. Padre documentary on the MLB Network.
Kevin Towers, a good baseball guy, and a good man too.