Bowa, Sandberg forever linked in 'The Trade'
Larry Bowa has been asked a lot about Jan. 27, 1982.
The Philadelphia Phillies parted ways with Bowa and a young infielder by the name of Ryne Sandberg that day, sending them to the Chicago Cubs for Ivan DeJesus.
He didn't want to go.
Ruly Carpenter was the owner of the Phillies during the 1981 season and the two sat down and talked, agreeing on a three or four year verbal contract. Bill Giles, however, took over the team in the offseason and naturally a new owner doesn't have to honor what the old owner did especially since there was no signed contract.
The Phillies offered him a two-year deal, Bowa turned it down and told them they would have to trade him. And they did.
"I always remind Ryne he was the throw in," said Bowa, prior to Thursday night's Scranton/Wilkes Barre-Lehigh Valley IronPigs game which featured Sandberg Bobblehead night. "Obviously, I turned out to be the throw in. It was a good time playing with him. He was a good player and he's been doing a good job managing also.
"I was shocked that he didn't get a major league job. I just think he'd do a great job as a manager up in the big leagues. I guess everyone is afraid to give a guy a job for the first time, but he's paid his dues. He'll get an opportunity. I thought for sure he was going to go to the Cubs. I thought it would be a perfect situation."
Bowa, a manager himself with the Phillies and the San Diego Padres, doesn't miss calling the shots but didn't rule out entertaining offers down the road. Right now he's content being an analyst with MLB Network.
"I think I needed to take a break," he said. "I like what I'm doing. They ask your opinion on certain things and basically you're watching games every day. Before I came here there were four games on. I watched the Mets, Bell struggled again and blew a save and the Angels lost. Closers for some reason, maybe it's the month of April, are struggling."
Bowa reflected back on his playing days with Sandberg after they were traded to the Cubs.
"I knew he was going to be a good player, but to say he was going to hit that many home runs, no way," Bowa said. "But you could see he was very athletic. When he first joined the Cubs, he played center, second base and third base. That's hard to do for a young kid.
"He started out 1-for-32 at the plate. That tells you something about his mental toughness."
Sandberg played in the shadow of Bowa in Philadelphia when he got called up in September before the trade.
"He was standing behind me when I was taking grounders and I kept looking over my shoulder," Sandberg quipped. "I said 'are you going to jump in here?' and he said 'no, I'll wait until your done.' and that showed how very respectful he was."
When the two got traded, Bowa called him and told Sandberg to meet him three weeks before spring training started.
"I told him we would work together every day and he was there every day," said Bowa. "He had an unbelievable career in Chicago. Well obviously, he's a Hall of Famer."
Bowa remembers the 1984 season in Chicago when the Cubs had quite the season.
"It was fun, memorable and disappointing," Bowa mentioned. "That's when we played all day games. After a day game, you'd go out to dinner and we didn't have to pay for one dinner in Chicago. They were so keyed up for the Cubs. We win the first two playoff games against San Diego and then lost three straight. That was really tough."
Bowa also cautioned Phillies fans not to panic while watching the slow start that the team has had.
"We know they have great pitching," he said. "I thought they'd hit a little better. I know it's early in the season, but up until now they have not hit. I know when you lose (Chase) Utley and (Ryan) Howard that's going to hurt you and hopefully they'll get back.
"But if you look at their record the last two or three years, they're right around .500 until June so they can do that. Everyone's drinking the Washington Kool Aid right now. They (the Nationals) have never played over .500 so you have to see what happens there. It's going to be a good race."