SAN DIEGO -- Kevin Towers, the general manager who delivered the Padres' last National League pennant and three other division titles, died Tuesday morning after a long fight with cancer. He was 56.
Towers was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer near the end of 2016.
Towers was the Padres' general manager from 1995-2009. He guided San Diego to the top of the National League West on four occasions, including a World Series appearance in 1998.
He was the Arizona Diamondbacks' general manager from 2010-14. Arizona won the NL West in 2011.
Towers was effective at crafting trades with a wide spectrum of general managers and acquired several of the players for the 1998 team that set a club record with 98 victories and beat two 100-win teams in the playoffs before losing to the 114-win Yankees in the World Series.
Thanks in part to the upgrades made by Towers -- including the acquisition of '98 mainstays such as Kevin Brown, Wally Joyner, Greg Vaughn, Chris Gomez, Sterling Hitchcock and Quilvio Veras -- the Padres created momentum going into the November 1998 general election in which voters approved funding for a downtown ballpark. Petco Park opened in 2004.
Towers' cancer diagnosis did not become public knowledge until October. With permission from the Towers family, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch displayed Towers' name on a placard in a Stand up to Cancer spot during Game 4 of the World Series.
"He means a lot to me," Hinch, a former assistant general manager for the Padres, said afterward. "He's meant a lot to the people within the game for many, many years. He's done everything in the game. I wanted to put someone on there that was a baseball person that has resonated across the game at so many levels for so many years, and we just keep rooting for KT to have a recovery."
The Padres issued a statement from Executive Chairman Ron Fowler and General Partner Peter Seidler:
"We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Kevin Towers, who passed away early this morning after a courageous battle with cancer. Kevin spent nearly thirty years in the Padres organization as a player, scout, and front office executive. He led our Club with strength, conviction and unwavering determination, and was beloved by all who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, especially his wonderful wife, Kelley."
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