In a sudden piece of heartbreaking news, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that former Padres and Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has passed away at the age of 56. Towers had been diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer back in December 2016.
Prior to his days as one of the game’s most prominent and recognizable executives, Towers broke into professional baseball as a player when he was selected by the Padres in the first round of the 1982 draft. A right-hander who starred at Brigham Young University, Towers would pitch in parts of eight minor league seasons that were slowed by injury before ultimately transitioning to the operations side of the game.
Well-respected for his scouting acumen, Towers parlayed his keen eye for player talent into a position as the Padres’ scouting director before ascending to their GM chair in 1996 — a position he’d occupy all the way through the 2009 season. That remarkable run is one of lengthier stints that any GM has enjoyed atop his organization in recent history.
San Diego won its division in two of Towers’ first three seasons at the helm and advanced to the World Series in 1998 under his watch. The Friars would go on to win the West on two more occasions under Towers’ guidance, taking home consecutive division crowns in the 2005-06 seasons. Never afraid to make a bold trade, Towers was affectionately referred to as the “gunslinger” for much of his career as a general manager.
Upon being dismissed after that 2009 season, Towers spent a year as a special assignment scout with the Yankees before being tabbed as the new general manager of the Diamondbacks. From 2010-14, Towers would hold that role, and it was during his tenure that the D-backs signed face of the franchise Paul Goldschmidt to one of the game’s best contracts.
Following his dismissal and replacement by the Dave Stewart/Tony La Russa regime, Towers joined the Reds as a special assistant to GM Dick Williams, specializing in player personnel — a role that he continued to hold even into his battle with cancer.
The immediate outpouring from the media, former players and others in the industry serves as a testament to Towers’ reputation as a venerable ambassador to the game of baseball, as well as to the love and respect that he fostered in more than three decades as a member of the MLB family. Yahoo’s Tim Brown has penned an especially poignant tribute to Towers, encapsulating the magnetic vigor that drew so many to him.
Our deepest condolences to his family, loved ones and the countless men and women both in the industry and the media whose lives he impacted over the course of a 35-year career in professional baseball.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Very sorry to hear that. My deepest condolences to his family and friends too.
Wow, rest in peace Mr. Towers. I can’t imagine how his family and loved ones feel right now.
Wow, that’s incredibly sad. He presided over many of the Padres’ best seasons and teams, and seemed like a great guy. He’ll be missed by many Padres fans.
So sad. So young. My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire family
Rest in Peace KT
RIP. Met him at the Padre’s Fantasy Camp. Really a good guy
We hung out with KT and his wife a few years ago at Fiesta Del Sol in Solana Beach. He bought all of our drinks for us after just meeting them. Super funny and happy, and his wife was just as nice and funny. RIP Kevin, and prayers and good thoughts for your family.
One of the stories he told us was that he was really close to getting Pujols for Carlos Hernandez!
Wow, this is terrible to hear. RIP Kevin.
Far too young. Prayers and thoughts to his family. RIP.
Wasn’t aware he had cancer. RIP.
Wow, so young. Agreed with in full Steve Adams. Amen.
R.I.P very sad
So young! Only 56? Wow. Reminder that life doesn’t last forever and for us to cherish every moment. So sad and RIP Mr towers. Condolences to his family.
Very sad. RIP.
Wow. Sad and shocking. RIP
Towers supplied my Braves with Justin Upton from ARZ. He was one of the good ones. RIP and my condolences to the Towers, Pads/Dbacks family.
That is sad news. Im sure Darrin Smith will have a tribute to him today on mighty 1090.
Probably the best GM the padres had that I can remember.
Ill never forget the time when I was in middle school my friends and I were dialing random numbers to prank call people and we dialed Kevin Towers number.
Trader jack comes in first but he is top 3. Rest in piece Kevin towers
Rest in peace*
I think it’s more likely that you and your friends were the ones getting pranked…
We dialed his office number, least we think. It went to voicemail and said hello, you’ve reached the office of Kevin Towers of the San Diego Padres. I am not in at the moment, please leave a message and I will return your call at my earliest convenience- or something to that effect.
Must of been a pretty elaborate counter prank.
Then you should have left a voicemail claiming to be another GM and ask about that guy Tony Gwynn.
RIP KT. Our prayers of comfort go out to his family at this rough, rough time. He was one of the truly good guys in the game. Always had time to talk baseball. So young. Cancer is a MF.
Only 56. It is a damn shame. RIP.
I saw Towers back in 2003 in the stands at a Rockies game in Denver. I went up to him, asked for an autograph, he signed in a heartbeat. I thanked him and he thanked me back. I asked him about the Jason Kendall rumors swirling at the time and he said, “if the Pirates would take Jarvis, the deal would be done today”. The deal never did come to fruition, but it was cool that he was so open with a young Padre fan. Towers seemed like a real genuine guy and it is a shame he is gone so soon. RIP KT.
Sooo sucks! Great GM for along time.
RIP. Truly sad to hear but everyone should remember the positive impact he had on the game.
Sad. So young. RIP.
Deepest condolences to the Towers family, baseball has lost a good one.
Nicely written piece Steve.
Rest in peace Kevin my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family you were a game changer you will be missed.
Last gm that would tell things straight. F off
please do not use the m word, very rude
My friends and I were at a spring training game in Arizona and we recognized Kevin Towers sitting behind the plate in the first few rows. A ball was fouled off straight back and went through the netting and beamed him right in the head. Everyone rushed over to make sure he was alright. After getting his bearings security walked him out to get him checked out. Tough guy and a good GM … RIP
Now he can make terrible trades/signings in heaven or hell.
So, when will you be 12?
What is your problem Yasmi12? So uncalled for. You have no class.
You are the definition of an a$$hole..
I at least mentioned he could be in heaven, you never know….
Whatever trade he made you didn’t like I’m sorry.
Maybe a bad time to vent that frustration.
The only thing I knew about Mr. Towers was that he worked with the Yankees, as a special assignment scout before landing another GM job, with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Two thoughts:
1) I didn’t know he was sick…
2) 56? Wtf— Rest in Peace, Mr. Towers.