Kevin Towers was the general manager of the Padres from 1995-2009. He was credited with putting together the NL West winning teams in 1996, 1998, 2005, and 2006 and was known for his ability to "win" trades and find undervalued pitchers.
Towers was born in Medford Oregon and was accepted to the University of Oregon. About three weeks before classes started, Towers received a phone call late at night from John Seeley, the head baseball coach at Mira Costa Junior college in San Diego, Seeley wanted Towers to play baseball. Towers changed schools and was even drafted by the Braves out of Mira Costa, but didn't sign. While playing for Mira Costa, Towers and a few other baseball players lived in the old Victorian house that went on to be featured in the movie Top Gun. Towers then transferred to Brigham Young University and went on to become an All-WAC pitcher. The San Diego Padres made him their first round pick in the 1982 Major League Draft. An omen?
Towers pitched eight unforgettable seasons in the Padres minor league system posting a career ERA of 4.64 and a 1.656 WHIP. He once threw live batting practice for the Padres regulars, but he was chased off the field by a pissed off Dick Williams, after Kevin Towers plunked Steve Garvey in the head. Towers never made it above AAA due to injuries. At age 27 he was done playing the game.
In 1989 Kevin Towers became an area scout in the Midwest and a pitching coach during the summer for the minor league Single-A Spokane Indians. He was hired on as a Padre scout from 1990–91, and then the Pittsburgh Pirates hired Towers as a cross checker from 1991–93. In 1994 Kevin Towers rejoined the Padres, this time as the scouting director.
Although he never actually applied or even interviewed to be the Padres General Manager, Towers was given the job late in 1995, with just five years of experience.
Towers directed the Padres to their second ever National League Championship in 1998, a National League West Division Title in 1996, 1998, 2005, 2006. The Padres missed winning the wild card in 2007 by losing a 13-inning tiebreaker game 163 against the Colorado Rockies.
In 2001, after Towers got the New York Yankees to take Sterling Hitchcock, Kevin Towers referred to himself as the "Sludge Merchant". The nick name stuck. Towers was often referred to by the main stream media as the "King of Dumpster Diving" for his ability to find reclamation project pitchers that many other teams were not interested in, or had been released. Sometimes called a "Gunslinger", Towers infamously pulled off a four player swap on his wedding day, while waiting for his soon to be wife to show up, with then Tigers General Manager Randy Smith. Towers once traded a player for a treadmill and some weights.
Although Trevor Hoffman became baseball's career saves leader while with the Padres, Kevin Towers never actually saw him pitch. Towers has said he was always too nervous, so KT would wait out the game in the clubhouse. "I didn't get to see him close, but by God, I heard those bells ringing when I was downstairs, I knew that when I heard bells ringing, good things were going to happen. I knew it was going to be an exciting clubhouse."
On October 3, 2009, the Padres fired Towers, at the time he was the longest tenured General Manager in the game. He was succeeded by Jed Hoyer. He was recently hired by the New York Yankees as a special assistant to the GM Brian Cashman.
(a work in progress)