Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa is in the midst of his 28th season with the Phillies. (Frank Klose/SportsTalkPhilly)
Philadelphia may never run out of classic Larry Bowa stories.
Former Phillies closer Billy Wagner joined Jack Fritz and myself on the latest edition of the 80-08 Podcast and passed along another a great story from the end of Bowa's tenure as the club's manager:
"When Larry Bowa was fired, I remember getting a letter from Larry. When he got fired, I had been hurt and he said that I was the reason that he lost his job. Of course, I think he was saying it in just, but I truly think that if I'm healthy, he probably doesn't get fired."
Wagner noted in the interview that the only real regrets he had from his career were the times that he was injured an unable to help his teams compete for the playoffs. In 2004, Wagner missed much of May with a groin injury and would later miss the back-half of July and all of August that season. The Phillies would finish 86-76 that year, six games behind the National League Wild Card winners, the Houston Astros.
Wagner individually wouldn't have made a six-game difference, but the Phillies managed to win 86 games that year despite an already thin rotation losing Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla and Kevin Millwood for portions of the season.
In four seasons as the club's manager, Bowa posted a 418-435 record, including winning Manager of the Year in his first season as the club's skipper. Unfortunately for Bowa, the team wasn't able to make the playoffs during his tenure. That, along with the fact that at least portions of the clubhouse didn't seem to like his managing style, led to the team firing him just prior to the conclusion of the 2004 season.
Despite this, Wagner says he enjoyed his one season playing under Bowa:
"I respect Larry to death. I enjoyed the crap out of him - I thought he was awesome. He was my type of manager. [He] wasn't afraid to tell you what he thought, that type of thing."