Deep into his only stint in the majors in 1996, Bowers knocked what amounted to his 12th big league single. The first-base umpire Dale Scott called for the ball, The Baltimore Sun wrote.
"I think he thinks that was my first big-league hit," Bowers recalled telling first baseman J.T. Snow when asked, The Sun wrote
Years later, another Bowers encounter with an umpire also made news, this one for a homophobic tirade the independent league manager directed at a league ump. It eventually cost Bowers the season.
Bowers' career in baseball began in 1989, taken by the Blue Jays in the second round of the draft out of St. Laurence High School in Illinois.
Bowers started with the Blue Jays at rookie Medicine Hat. He hit .286 there his first year and returned to hit .274 there in 1990. He knocked in a run on a single in an early 1990 game.
Bowers moved to single-A Myrtle Beach for 1991, then high-A Dunedin for 1992. After two seasons at AA Knoxville, he made AAA Syracuse for 1995. He hit .252 at Syracuse, with five home runs.
Then, for 1996, he signed with the Orioles as a free agent. After playing at AA Bowie and AAA Rochester, Bowers got his call up to Baltimore in August.
With the Orioles, Bowers got into 21 games down the stretch. He picked up those 12 hits, hitting .308. That one pegged by the umpires as his first, however, turned out to be his last.
Bowers returned to the minors for 1997, playing at AAA with the Phillies. He went on to play in the minors with the Mets, Cubs, Blue Jays and Reds. He also played in independent ball and in Korea. He last played in 2002 with Independent Solano in the Western League.
By 2005, Bowers had taken his new role as a manager. He managed independent Windy City in 2005 and 2006 and then independent Edmonton from 2008 to 2010.
The later umpire interaction came July 31, 2010, as Bowers managed Edmonton. Arguing a call with the crew chief, who is gay, Bowers unleashed a homophobic slur-laden tirade. Sports Illustrated carried much of the verbal attack based on the umpire's official report.
The league first suspended Bowers two games, then, after a protest from fellow umpires, for the season, SI wrote. Bowers resigned days later.
"I went over to him and I said those words," Bowers told an Edmonton TV station later, according to SI. "If I had 10 minutes to look back, I've grown up more in three days than ever before."
The Windy City Times later interviewed the umpire, Billy Van Raaphorst.
Bowers has since returned to the Chicago area, heading up Triple Crown All-Stars in Northwest Indiana in 2013. He continued there in 2017.
- Baltimore Sun, Sept. 5, 1996: Exam uncorks nothing wrong with Bonilla's bat
- Sports Illustrated, Aug. 13, 2010: Minor league manager's outburst toward gay ump was all about hate
Players/Coaches Featured: 2,515
Made the Majors:1,010-40.2%-X
Never Made Majors:1,505-59.8%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 419
10+ Seasons in the Minors:259