Phillies Guru Paul Owens Dead At Age 79

Perhaps no other figure from the Phillies front office has been more respected and beloved than Paul Owens. "The Pope" passed away Friday night after a long illness at the age of 79. Owens was known for his dedication to young players and his commitment to the Phillies organization.

Paul Owens, general manager of the 1980 World Series champion Phillies and manager of the 1983 NL champion Phillies, died Friday morning at Underwood Hospital in Woodbury, N.J., following a long illness. He was 79.

Owens career with the Phillies spanned 48 years and he spent time at just about every level possible in the organization. Owens joined the Phillies as a player-manager in Olean, New York in 1955. In 1958, Owens was manager of the Bakersfield, California team in the California league.

Owens then served as a scout, covering most of the western part of the country and in 1965 moved to the Phillies front office as their minor league director, where he managed the scouting and minor league player development programs. After a successful run in that position, including being a part of the planning and construction for the Carpenter Field Complex in Clearwater, Florida, the Phillies promoted Owens to Director of Player Development in 1972.

Owens had a direct hand in developing players like Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Bob Boone and Greg Luzinski, who formed the nucleus of the great Phillies teams of the late 1970s and the World Series Champions of 1980. Owens also played a role in trades that brought players like Tug McGraw, Manny Trillo and Gene Garber to the Phillies.

As General Manager in 1983, Owens wasn't happy with the team's play and took over as manager for Pat Corrales. Owens turned things around and led the team to the World Series. He stayed on as both GM and manager for the 1984 season before leaving the job.

Owens career was defined by a dedication to building a team through a strong farm system, which was the trademark of Phillies teams with Owens as general manager. Because of that dedication, the Phillies named their award for the top minor league player and pitcher each year after Owens. "His philosophy of developing your own talent is a pattern many teams have followed," said team president David Montgomery. "He had tremendous love for his own family and the Phillies family as well. He possessed a special quality of carying for everyone in the organization from the players to the front office. We will miss him dearly."

Nicknamed "The Pope" in the 1960s because of his resemblance to Pope Paul VI, Owens put together the greatest era in Phillies history. As GM, his teams won East Division titles in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1980. The 1981 Phillies reached postseason play as the first-half division champions during a split season caused by a players' strike.

Owens continued his Phillies career as assistant to the president in 1985 and senior advisor to the general Manager in 1998. As recently as two years ago, Owens spent time in Spring Training with the Major League and minor league Phillies. He often watched home games at Veterans Stadium from the private box of GM Ed Wade.

Born on Feb. 7, 1924, in Salamanca, Owens is survived by his wife of 58 years, Marcelle; two sons, Danny and Pat, and five grandchildren.

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