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Kevin Towers recalled all of the jobs he's had in his lifetime: He worked at a Chinese restaurant in Medford, Oregon. He sanded cars at an auto body shop. He worked in a saw mill. He played organized baseball and worked his way into upper management of the sport.
And through it all, he said he had never been fired. Until now.
Towers had the longest tenure of any general manager in the big leagues, but his career with the Padres is over. He was fired Friday night at the end of his 14th season as the Padres General Manager. It was part of a front office house cleaning by new owner Jeff Moorad.
New Padres CEO Jeff Moorad talked about his decision at a Saturday afternoon news conference at Petco Park.
"With decisions like this, the tough part is that it obviously impacts lives and in this case the life of a person I've grown quite comfortable with and value as a friend," said Moorad.
He said the decision was based not on what "Kevin didn't do," but rather what the organization would like to do moving forward.
"We're interested in approaching the business in all aspects with a strategic mindset, one that involves the idea of putting our thoughts and plans together, both short and long term.
Moorad said he informed Towers of his decision to explore the possibility of bringing in a new GM a few weeks ago. He said he hopes to bring in a new candidate in a few weeks.
Shortly after Moorad made his statements, Towers took the podium.
"I'm a Padre at heart, always gonna root for the Padres," said Towers choking back emotion. "Next year I'm gonna be rooting like a son of a gun for the these guys and for Blackie (manager Bud Black), cause it's truly a reflection on some of the work that I've done."
Towers said he wasn't told why he was being dismissed, and he wasn't particularly interested in a reason.
"I just assumed they wanted to bring in their own guy," he said. Towers still has a year left on his contract worth $2 million.
Under Towers, the Padres won four NL West titles and reached the 1998 World Series. He made some terrific trades, and others that never panned out. His hands have been tied most of the time with a small payroll.
“I think it’s a terrible thing to do. He is a great general manager. He’s had nothing to work with money wise and he has found diamonds in the rough and I just think it’s a crappy thing to do,” Padres fan Cathie Galbraith said.
Padres manager Bud Black was at Saturday's news conference but did not address the media. The Padres play the San Francisco Giants Saturday night. After Friday's game, Black did not want to talk about Towers.
"Let's talk about the game," Black said after the Padres' 7-2 loss to San Francisco. "If that's the case, let's give it its due course. If that does happen, we'll talk about it."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy, San Diego's manager for 11 seasons under Towers, was shocked to hear the news.
"I'd like to get some more information before I make any comments," Bochy said. "Obviously, Kevin and I have a long history and a great relationship. He's done a great job. If that happens, I'm stunned. I feel awful for him. But I'd like to hold back comment until I know more."
Early speculation on a successor centered around Paul DePodesta, the former Dodgers GM who has been with the Padres since July 2006. He is in the first year of a three-year contract believed to be worth $800,000 per season.
Another possible candidate is Randy Smith, a former GM with the Padres and Detroit Tigers who is the Padres' director of international scouting.
The fans were already in a pretty grumpy mood Friday because the Giants thumped the Padres. Then came word that Towers had been fired.
“I’m very displeased that he’s leaving. I would give him at least one more year,” Padres fan Randy Atkinson said.
Fans recognize new ownership is going to want to bring in their own people but felt Kevin Towers was not part of the problem.
“I think Kevin Towers has done a phenomenal job and I’d hate to see him go. I think all the success they’ve had over the years is due to him and I think the way this team has responded, the second half of this year, is because of him,” Padres fan Steve Lees said.
Moorad leads a group that is buying the team from John Moores. He has spoken about making changes in the baseball operations department.