Reds fire managers Bowden, Boone - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Reds fire managers Bowden, Boone

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Posted: Monday, July 28, 2003 10:36 am | Updated: 1:12 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

CINCINNATI - General manager Jim Bowden and manager Bob Boone were fired Monday by the Cincinnati Reds, who failed to live up to expectations in a new ballpark.

The clubhouse was closed and the moves were announced shortly before an afternoon makeup game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Bench coach Ray Knight ran the team for the day.

Triple-A Louisville manager Dave Miley will run the Reds on an interim basis for the rest of the season.

The Reds also fired hitting coach Tom Robson and third base coach Tim Foli, who were brought in by Boone. The Reds are last in the NL in pitching and have the worst defense in the majors.

Bowden and Boone were in the final years of their contracts and were under pressure to win in the first season at Great American Ball Park. Bowden was in charge of a rebuilding that was supposed to bring a winner in 2003, but the team was 46-58 when he was fired.

"Certainly there were high expectations for this season," said the club's chief operating officer, John Allen. "I'm not saying we necessarily expected to go to the World Series, but we certainly didn't expect to be sitting 10 1/2 games out and significantly under .500 at this point in the season."

Allen said the club won't hire a general manager until after the World Series. Two of Bowden's assistants will take over his duties in the interim, including trade talks.

Allen said he decided the changes were needed last week, and got ownership's approval. A 1-7 homestand after the All-Star break dropped the Reds out of contention and influenced the decision.

Heading into Monday night's game, the Reds were stuck in fifth place in the NL Central.

Boone left the clubhouse about two hours before the start of the game, dressed in street clothes. He shook reporters' hands but declined to comment. Bowden also left without comment.

The clubhouse was closed to reporters after the firings were announced. Allen made sure third baseman Aaron Boone, the manager's son, was informed following a meeting with his father.

Perhaps 2,000 fans were in the stands, holding umbrellas and dressed in rain ponchos, as the game began in a light drizzle. Knight, who managed the Reds in 1996-97, took out the lineup card and coached third base.

The front-office shakeup marked a dramatic shift for the Reds, who have pointed to their move into the new ballpark as a watershed moment for the franchise. Instead, it has been a huge disappointment.

Bowden became the youngest general manager in major league history, only 31 when he took over before the 1993 season. He immediately built his reputation as an impatient boss by firing manager Tony Perez only 44 games into the next season.

Bowden became one of the most influential general managers in club history, guiding the team through former owner Marge Schott's gaffes and suspensions for inflammatory comments.

He led the Reds to the NL championship series in 1995 with the second-biggest payroll in the league. The Reds were swept by the Atlanta Braves and never made it back to postseason play.

Along the way, Bowden developed a reputation for playing angles and constantly remaking the roster. The Reds formally launched into a rebuilding in 1997, but changed course when they surprisingly stayed in contention throughout 1999, losing a one-game playoff to the New York Mets for the NL wild card.

Bowden then pulled off the trade that was supposed to be his crowning moment as a general manager, bringing Ken Griffey Jr. home in February 2000 through a trade with Seattle. But that blew up on him as well, with Griffey getting hurt in each of his four seasons back home.

Griffey is out for the season with a torn tendon in his right ankle.

When the ballclub was campaigning for a sales tax increase to build the new ballpark, Bowden promised fans: "Build it and we will win." His impatience and the franchise's inability to develop young pitching during his tenure doomed them to another losing season.

Boone took over for Jack McKeon after the 2000 season and never produced a winning record. The Reds went 190-238 during his tenure.

Cracks started to show after the All-Star break, when starting pitchers complained about Boone's handling of the pitching staff.

Boone also came under question because of his propensity for unorthodox moves - batting home run leader Adam Dunn in the leadoff spot, for example.

Boone was limited this season by Bowden's insistence he carry inexperienced outfielder Wily Mo Pena on the roster, even though he wasn't ready for the majors.

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