You Are Here > Baseball-Reference.com > Bullpen > Bob Howsam - BR Bullpen

Bob Howsam

From BR Bullpen

Jump to: navigation, search

Robert Lee Howsam, Sr.

[edit] Biographical Information

The son of a beekeeper, Bob Howsam was a Navy test pilot during World War II, then an administrative assistant to Colorado Senator Edwin Johnson, who also held the job of President of the Western League; Johnson made Howsam the circuit's executive secretary. This opening allowed him to purchase the Denver Bears franchise in the league, along with his father and brother, and to become GM of the team starting in 1948. After the 1954 season, he bought the Kansas City Blues, which were being displaced by the [[Philadelphia Athletics] becoming the Kansas City Athletics, and moved them to Denver, putting the city in the American Association, one of the top three minor leagues of the time. In 1956 he was named Minor League Executive of the Year for higher classification leagues. The Western League Bears were an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, then run by Branch Rickey, and Howsam became a close friend of the great innovator. When he moved to the American Association, they were a farm team of the New York Yankees, and that allowed Howsam to develop a relationship with Yankees top executive George Weiss. He was associated with the Bears for twelve years, then was involved with Rickey and the plans for the Continental League, hoping to bring a franchise of the new circuit to Denver. This did not happen, but ultimately, the threat of a third major league forced the National League and American League to hold their first expansions, a process that would eventually bring about the creation of the Colorado Rockies in the expansion of 1993. Howsam was also responsible for bringing Denver professional football as he was owner of the American Football League's Denver Broncos.

With the end of the Continental League project, Howsam sold his interests in both the Bears and the Broncos, as well as a recently-expanded Mile High Stadium, in 1961. He then made the move to the major leagues when he was named General Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals from August 1964 to early in 1967. His hiring came because of maneuverings initiated by Rickey, still a very influential figure in St. Louis, to replace long-time GM Bing Devine. He resigned before the start of the 1967 season to become GM of the Cincinnati Reds and held that post until 1978. With the Reds, he hired a young Sparky Anderson to be the team's manager, doubled the scouting department, and was responsible for bringing in Joe Morgan and Cesar Geronimo among others, ushering the greatest period of success in franchise history, during which the Reds were twice winners of the World Series, in 1975 and 1976, and National League pennant winners in 1970 and 1972. As a result, he has been called the "Architect of the Big Red Machine". He had previously won the World Series with the Cardinals in 1964, and the team went on to win another one after his departure in 1967, thanks in large part to the changes in personnel he had brought about before his departure.

After serving as a team vice president with the Reds, Howsam held the position of General Manager with the Reds again in 1983 and 1984. He died in 2008 at the age of 89. His name was on the Veterans Committee ballot for the 2015 Hall of Fame Election for players and executives from the "Golden Era" (1947-1972).


Preceded by
Bing Devine
St. Louis Cardinals General Manager
1964-1966
Succeeded by
Stan Musial
Preceded by
Bill DeWitt
Cincinnati Reds General Manager
1967-1978
Succeeded by
Dick Wagner
Preceded by
Dick Wagner
Cincinnati Reds General Manager
1983-1984
Succeeded by
Bill Bergesch

[edit] Further Reading

  • Tracy Ringolsby: "'Big Red' GM makes intriguing case for Hall of Fame: Howsam paved way for baseball in Denver during storied two-sport career", mlb.com, November 3, 2014. [1]
  • Daryl Smith: Making the Big Red Machine: Bob Howsam and the Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2009.
Personal tools