Monday, July 28, 2003

Reds fire Bowden, Boone

Louisville's Dave Miley takes over as manager

The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Associated Press

First baseman Sean Casey said Reds players were shocked when chief operating office John Allen called them together before today's game and told them that general manager Jim Bowden, manager Bob Boone and two coaches had been fired.

"It was stunning," said Casey. "It was very surprising. It was just a weird atmosphere. Guys were coming in to get ready to work, and your skipper's gone and your general manager's gone."

Bob Boone says goodbye to reporters as he leaves the clubhouse at Great American Ball Park today.
(Gary Landers photo)
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Dave Miley, manager of the Reds' Triple-A farm team at Louisville, was named interim manager for the rest of the season.

Boone, dressed in street clothes, left the clubhouse about two hours before the 12:35 p.m. game. He shook reporters' hands but declined to comment.

"We felt it was going to happen," said bench coach Ray Knight, who managed the team for today's game. "We didn't know it was going to be this extensive or this deep."

Hitting coach Tom Robson and third-base coach Tim Foli were also fired.

Ryan Dempster, who had groused last week that Boone wasn't letting his starters go long enough, said: "I don't know what needed to happen. When you're struggling, you're always searching for answers. A lot of times, the manager gets the brunt of it on his shoulders."

Reds COO John Allen announces the firings today.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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At a noon news conference, Allen said the team's fall out of contention this month convinced him it was time to make a move.

"Certainly there were high expectations for this season," Allen said. "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 (12 games) at this point in the season."

Of Miley, Allen said: "He's been a very good manager in the minor leagues and very loyal to our organization. I'm very excited to see what Dave can do."

Miley is a 23-year veteran of the Reds organization. He will join the team Tuesday.

Knight will work as the club's hitting coach and third-base coach. Bullpen catcher Mark Berry will serve as bench coach.

The Reds said they do not expect to hire a new GM or manager for 2004 until after the World Series.

Both Bowden and Boone were in final years of their contracts.

The team had talked for years about the buildup to 2003 and the opening of Great American Ball Park. But the team has failed to remain competitive. The Reds entered today's game 46-58 and in fifth place in the National League Central. They are last in pitching and fielding the National League.

"One of our disappointments is that we have not developed more starting pitching," Allen said today. "We've really got to focus on that."

Miley, 41, becomes the 57th manager in Reds history, the 47th since 1900. In four seasons at Louisville, Miley compiled a 296-245 record (.547).

Miley's career record as a minor league manager is 1,115-841 (.570), and in 1998 he was named the International League's best managerial prospect. He was 1997 IL Manager of the Year at Indianapolis and 1995 Southern League Manager of the Year and Class AA Manager of the Year while at Chattanooga.

Miley signed with the Reds as a catcher and played seven minor league seasons before he became a coach. For most of the last 16 seasons he was a coach, instructor or manager in the club's minor league system. Miley was the bench coach on the Reds staff in 1993 under manager Tony Perez.

At age 31, Bowden became the youngest general manager in major league history 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.

The Reds made it to the NL championship series in 1995 with the second-biggest payroll in the league but were swept by the 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 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, 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." 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 during a 1-7 homestand 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.

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