An interview with Larry Bowa

An interview with Larry Bowa

You spent some time here in a number of different remakes of yourself. How would you describe Philly, Philly fans? What do you think of when you think of this place in terms of this?

LARRY BOWA: They're very boisterous. I think they love their sports teams. They let you know when you're not doing well, but they also let you know when you're doing things right.

And I know that Jimmy said something earlier in the year, we talked about it. The one thing they're not is front runners; they come out. They come out and support their team. Watching the playoffs against Milwaukee, it was quite a sight. And I told our guys if they thought Chicago was bad, they're in for a rude awakening, because it's not even close.

Maybe because we sort of took Chicago out of it early. But it was like -- it's like a West Coast crowd in Chicago really.

You don't like Dodgers crowds?

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LARRY BOWA: I like loud crowds from the first pitch to the last.

You think Dodgers crowds are laid back?

LARRY BOWA: No, I think they were electric our last game. But I've seen them during the season where they're laid back.

One game is when they were loud?

LARRY BOWA: They were real loud. That's the loudest I've seen them all year.

Playing here in '77 and '78, can you talk about the memories in those series against the Dodgers?

LARRY BOWA: They were good series. We grew up playing them in the Coast league; they were in Spokane and we were in Eugene, Oregon. We had a rivalry going then. They seemed to get the best of us in those games.

We always made a mistake late. It cost us, but they're very competitive. You remember when Burt Hooton was pitching and the crowd got into it, he couldn't throw a strike. Then the rain game with Tommy John. The play in left field where Bull (Greg Luzinski) was still in the game and Jerry Martin had been replacing him and he wasn't in, led to a run.

Davey Lopes. I know Davey says let it go. But he was out. He knows he was out. (Laughter) and he can go look at that all day. 100,000 times he was out. But those were good games. They were good games but they seemed to get the best of us. I think Maddux dropped a ball which he never dropped. It was just one of those things.

Considering your history as a player, coach, manager here, would it kill you to lose to the Phillies more than it would if you were playing the Cubs or Brewers?

LARRY BOWA: Not really. I say whoever wins here I hope they win the World Series, because I get sort of tired of hearing about how the American League has been dominant. So whoever leaves here that's going on, I hope they win and beat the American League. Because I do think the American League to a certain part has been a lot better, but the National League is not getting any respect at all lately in any of the All Star games or World Series or anything.

I know you've been back here since you left, but is this more emotional? Does this mean more to you for the playoffs and the status of the series?

LARRY BOWA: I think the magnitude of the series it means more. You come in for a four game series, obviously you want to do well. If you don't do well, you still have games left.

If you don't do well in these games, you go home. So it's the finality of it. The magnitude of the game makes it different.

Knowing that this is a whole different atmosphere than Chicago and a whole different, are you curious to see how your kids will do?

LARRY BOWA: How our kids will do?

Are you as uncertain as anyone else in this environment?

LARRY BOWA: I think they're going to do good because they're pretty loose. I mean, I don't know if Manny has made them looser, but they've not really been in awe of anything. They've been going out and playing. Again, it's going to be a different crowd, I think.

But I just think that Manny's influence with our young kids has been something that, unless you see it, you wouldn't believe it. They sort of migrate to him and talk about everything, from kidding around in between innings and what to look for in a certain situation. He's had a big influence on them.

How improbable is it, incredible is it that in 100 plus years the Phillies still just have the one World Series title, and what does it mean to you to have been a part of that?

LARRY BOWA: That means a lot. But it's one more than Chicago has. (Laughter) I'm just kidding. No, it means a lot. But they've been there before. They got there again. But to win a World Series, that's the ultimate goal.

And I guess it was so special because we had come close all those years. We got in the playoffs. And, like I said, something always happened. And finally getting over the hump. In fact, before that season started, it was more or less told to us this was the last time they were going to keep us together if we didn't win this

. So we knew going in it was probably the last hurrah because we came close and couldn't get over the hump.

Going back to that play in 1977 involving Davey Lopes at first base, do you ever wonder like how things would have turned out differently if in fact he was called out, like would you guys have won the series, gone on to the World Series, that type of thing?

LARRY BOWA: I don't know if we would have won the series. But there's always a play here, play there, you know, like the squeeze the other night in Boston. Did the ball come out of his glove? Was it a continuation? I don't know.

But I do think the reason that play was called like that is because Bruce Froemming -- Davey Lopes was one of the fastest guys that played in the National League. When the ball went off Schmidty (Mike Schmidt), his first reaction is there's no way anybody is going to throw him out because of the way he runs after the ball ricochetted to me. And I think he just got caught up in the fact that Davey was exceptionally fast and couldn't believe the play was going to be that close. But that was a big play, but I don't know if it would have got us to the World Series.

I was going to ask about that play, too, do you flash back on that often?

LARRY BOWA: I see it a lot. Especially when Davey says there's no way he was out. I see him all the time and he says no way. But he knows he was out.

In '83 the Phillies beat the Dodgers in the NLCS despite losing 11 to 12 to them during the regular season. How much credence do you put in the regular season carrying into the playoffs especially in light of the fact that you split this year?

LARRY BOWA: We split with them. We won four out there and they beat us four. I think it's whoever pitches the best and catches the ball. The Phillies have an explosive team. They put big numbers up quick. They can put a 5 spot up. And then they might go six innings without scoring a run. They do damage and they do it quick.

We rely more on base hits and walks and Manny usually has been popping one out. But the Phillies are probably a more explosive team than we are but our pitching has been very good. And the old adage that good pitching stops good hitting, we're going to find out. Because if we continue to pitch, it should be a good series, because they've been pitching well also.

You talked about those teams leading up to '80, getting close, just can't get over the hump and those years start to add up where there has not been a World Series. Now it's been almost three decades since that. Do you get the same sense here now that was leading up to that '80 team?

LARRY BOWA: I think they've been very close. They feel it. But there's still relatively -- it's not an old team. Maybe some of their pitchers are a little bit older. But Jimmy's got a lot of years left. And Ut and Howard. And Victorino. They're still in their prime. So it's not like these guys are going to be done in a year. They still have a lot of baseball left.

I suspect Joe won't want to spend too much time talking about what this means to him personally to be back on this stage. Having observed him, been with him now, and having seen the way it ended in New York, can you talk about what you think it means to him personally?

LARRY BOWA: I know Joe is never going to admit it, but I think it means a lot to him to be at this stage right now. You keep reading that, well, he should have gone to the playoffs because of your payroll in New York. But the way Joe handles kids and different personalities, he's adjusted to the National League. I mean we've squeezed four or five, six times this year putting numerous hit and runs on.

And in the American League with the Yankees, I mean, when you have that kind of ball club, you do let them hit the ball. You don't ask Alex Rodriguez to squeeze or Giambi to squeeze. But they had the same payroll this year and they didn't get in.

I think Joe is very underrated as far as being able to take the credit that he deserves. To do what he did in that market with the media and the veteran players that he had to handle, the different egos, I don't know anybody else that could have done it for that long. He's a special guy. And he has the respect of everybody once he steps into a room.

Back to the play in '77, do you find yourself changing the channel when you see that replay come on again?

LARRY BOWA: I've seen it enough times. I know what the outcome is every time I look at it. But I've got all kinds of film on it. I've slowed it down. I've speeded it up and I get the same call.

Just talking to some of the Dodgers players they talk about Joe being very calm. I think we all know you're more of an emotional guy. How does that get any there with you?

LARRY BOWA: Before I went to New York Joe asked me to coach, one thing I looked at, I said I don't know how this is going to go, Joe. He said, I just want you to be yourself. When he said that, Joe lets his coaches coach. He likes that little bit of different personality. We all know who the boss is in the clubhouse. He'll ask everybody's opinion on something. He makes the final call on it.

So he likes the different personalities. He likes when if some guy did something wrong it's my area and I go up and tell him, he likes that. And I think that's why I get along with him. He lets you have your own personality and do your own thing.

You've mentioned Joe's ability to handle different types of personalities. What in particular has he done with Manny that's allowed that relationship to work?

LARRY BOWA: As soon as Manny walked in that clubhouse, I don't know if the respect came from the Yankee Boston series all the time, but there was that respect that he gave him right out of the gate. I mean, Joe gave it to Manny and Manny gave it right back to Joe.

And Joe has been pretty flexible, too. I mean, one of Joe's big deals in New York was headphones. We've had a lot of Latin music played lately and everybody seems to like it. And Joe says, hey, I'll go along with this as long as we keep winning.

But he doesn't tell you to do something; he asks you to do it. And I think anybody who goes in to talk to Joe, when you leave that room, no matter if you're a coach, the bat boy, whoever it is, you feel like you've talked to your dad. You feel like that relationship is a dad to son relationship, and there's that immediate respect that he gets.

And it doesn't matter if you're making 10 million a year or if you're making the minimum. Joe gives the respect and he gets the respect from the top all the way down to the bottom.

You said that no matter who wins you want to root for the National League team, does that change this is Philadelphia and, say, not St. Louis because of the attachment you've had for the city for a long time, does that make this series weird at all for you?

LARRY BOWA: It's a little weird. But I'm not going to sit up here and tell you if we get beat I want to see them lose the World Series. I'd like them to see the World Series. The four or five guys I have over there I have all the respect in the world for them. They played good for me I'm talking about Jimmy and Myers and Madson. And Burrell. I had at the end of the one year. Those guys they did a great job. I still consider them great friends. And obviously we want to beat them and go on. But if they beat us, I hope they beat whoever they play. And I mean that.

When you guys left here back in the end of August, you talked about, looked like things were starting to go a little bit out of control. I think you went to Washington, got swept down there. What changed about this team after those two series?

LARRY BOWA: Well, after we left here we went to Washington, as you said we lost seven in a row. Then we had a three game series in Arizona. And the thing that really helped things out a lot, Arizona didn't play well while we were losing those games. We were still within shouting distance.

And Joe had a big meeting in Arizona saying if we can win two out of three here, at least two out of three, maybe sweep, he said we're going to be right back in this thing. We knew we had to face Webb and Haren. And we had three games after that with another team and we were going to have to face them again and get Webb and Haren and Johnson.

Johnson didn't pitch the one game. We ended up beating those guys twice within that week, week to 10 days, and I think what it was it was a big confidence booster, because those guys were pitching lights out, both of them. Every time we faced them there was a dogfight. We weren't scoring a lot of runs, they were close games. But to win those two games there, two out of three, and then sweep them when they came to our park, I think that basically put us over the hump.

And of course Joe, you know, Joe said -- I've been around Joe where he has these meetings. He said I'm telling you the truth if we can win two out of three at least and sweep these guys or sweep these guys, he said we're going to win this thing. And he got everybody believing that and then we started playing and obviously our pitching has been very good lately.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.