"I think Kevin Towers is THE most significant figure in the health of Major League Baseball." ~ FMR. State Senator Steve Peace
For those lucky enough to call Kevin Towers a friend and colleague, they all say he was much more than a notably successful MLB General Manager.
Rare in professional sports, the 56-year-old Towers, whose life ended after a battle with Thyroid Cancer, was a man who rarely veered from his principles despite enormous political and business pressures brought by Major League Baseball.
THE PRINCIPLED MAN
The truth is, most baseball insiders believe Towers was the man most responsible for ending the steroid era.
In early 2005, months after the death of Padres third baseman Ken Caminiti, Towers told MLB writer Buster Olney, “I feel somewhat guilty, because I felt like I knew." Towers public confirmation shook the foundation of MLB. As for the first time, a true insider confirmed what so many had suspected but didn't have the proof, the game had been poisoned.
His admission was the catalyst for the infamous Congressional hearings in 2011. Towers spoke at those hearings.
THE BASEBALL MAN
Towers' deeply held principles served him well in assembling championship teams. He served as the General Manager of the San Diego Padres from 1995 to 2009 and for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2010 to 2014.
Before his tenure began in San Diego, the Padres were mostly also-rans to the Giants, Dodgers and Rockies. Then, Padres President Larry Lucchino hired Towers and the rest, as they say, is history. Under Towers, the Padres began their most successful decade-plus of existence winning four NL West titles and reaching the 1998 World Series.
Former Padres owner John Moores on Kevin Towers:
"The almost forgotten story is that Larry Lucchino plucked KT out of scouting into the GM job - and that made all the difference for the Padres & for me." ~ John Moores
Kevin Towers, Rosalynn Carter, Kelley Towers, Fmr. President Jimmy Carter
Photo Courtesy: Simone-photography
Those who knew Towers well say his legacy is strong and should be viewed as one of the most important and consequential figures in MLB.
Steve Peace, who served as senior advisor to John Moores, joined IVN to talk about Towers and the enormous legacy he left on the game.
Listen to the podcast here:
Here are some of the highlights from the podcast:
Was it Towers who was responsible for removing steroids from MLB?
"I think Kevin Towers is THE most significant figure in the health of Major League Baseball."~ Steve Peace
"There is absolutely no question that it was Kevin Towers' public statement that began the (steroid) conversation in a public way."
"I had the privilege of accompanying Kevin to hearings in Washington D.C., and help him prepare for that moment. He had been very personally moved by Ken Caminiti's death and was deeply involved in all his players lives. What a lot of people don't know is that there were a lot of people at the top of MLB at the time that tried to put a lot of pressure on the Padre organization and John Moores to discipline or even fire Kevin Towers. And as the hearings in Washington began, that pressure increased."
"One of the best weeks I spent in my life was in Washington working with Kevin and helping prepare him for those hearings. It was a tough challenge, there were MLB folks who were very concerned about what Kevin was going to say. No one blinked, John supported Kevin 100% of the way."
What Brought Towers To San Diego as General Manager?
"He was a rare story of a guy who was a pitcher, then went into scouting and Larry Lucchino and John Moores plucked him out of the scouting world and into the GM position. And as John Moores has said many times it was a godsend for both he and the Padres."
You knew him personally, what was unique about Kevin?
"Kevin was an old soul. Very calm, fun guy... recognized the good in other people, great talent evaluator, but he was also very true to himself and a very loyal guy, but also very loyal to the truth... even when it wasn't in his best interest to be so loyal to the truth."
"He was a testament to honesty and humility and seeing the positive in other people... and it's part of so why he was so good as a scout."
I'm sure the Padres will create a KT patch in his honor, do you think MLB should celebrate his life?
"I'm not sure that Kevin would care, he's a very humble guy. I think it would be enough for him that lives have been saved. And, I think he'd just assume pass on the accolades."