CINCINNATI -- Bernie Stowe, a Reds fixture and an employee for six decades, died Tuesday after a long illness. Stowe, who had up-close-and-personal experiences with great players and teams that included the Big Red Machine, was 80 years old.
In a career that saw him working out of three different Reds homes -- Crosley Field, Riverfront Stadium and Great American Ball Park -- Stowe began as a clubhouse boy for the team in 1947 before elevating to clubhouse manager in '68. He retired in 2013, long after he had already passed on the family business to his sons, Rick and Mark.
• Photos of Stowe over the years
Mark Stowe has been with the Reds since '75 and currently works as the visiting clubhouse manager. Rick became an assistant to his father in '81 and is entering his 20th season as the home clubhouse manager.
Besides being a valued employee, Bernie Stowe was a trusted friend and confidant to many of the players.
"He's the best. He was one of us," Reds great Pete Rose said of Stowe last month. "He wasn't a player, but he was like a player. He was always there for us, just like Ricky is now. Rick is a chip off the old block and Mark is, of course, in the other clubhouse. I remember when I was a kid, Bernie was No. 99, the batboy. He worked for Ray Evans, the clubhouse guy at Crosley Field. When we'd go to the World Series, we gave him two full shares -- one for him and one for all the clubhouse guys. Bernie was part of us."
Stowe was part of three of the Reds' World Series-winning clubs and six of their nine National League pennant winners. He was selected as the equipment manager for four NL All-Star teams.
In '03 upon the opening of Great American Ball Park, the Reds officially named the home clubhouse after Stowe to commemorate his years of service to the team. During the '08 season, the Reds Hall of Fame honored Stowe with the Powel Crosley Jr. Award, created to honor Reds staff members who show dedication and devotion during extended service to the club.
"There is no one in the Reds' family more loved, admired and respected than Bernie Stowe," Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini said in a statement. "For almost 70 years he deeply touched the lives of our players, our coaching staffs and our front office. Bernie and his family have dedicated their entire lives to this organization and to our city, and for that we are forever grateful."
Stowe is survived by his wife, Priscilla, and their children Mark, Kimberly, Jeff and Rick. Funeral arrangements have been set.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.