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Former Padres GM Kevin Towers dies of cancer at age 56

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As reported Tuesday morning, former San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers has died of cancer at just 56 years old.

Towers, who worked for the Padres for 18 years as a scout and front office executive, has been battling thyroid cancer since December of 2016. However the news of his condition had been kept private until Game 4 of the 2017 World Series when Houston Astros manager (and another former Padres front office executive) AJ Hinch held up a card with his name during a mid-game Stand Up to Cancer spot.

News of his passing this morning first started making the rounds on social media just before 8:00 am PT, with a tweet by Bob Nightengale.

Though Towers is mainly known in San Diego for his time as general manager for the Padres, his connection to San Diego started much earlier. He played college baseball at MiraCosta Community College in North County San Diego (Oceanside) before transferring to Brigham Young University. In 1982, his junior year, he was drafted by the Padres as a pitcher. He spent seven years pitching in the Padres farm system, but never made it to the Majors.

After spending two years as a pitching coach for the Single-A Spokane Indians, he returned to the Padres organization as a scout from 1989-1991, and then served as a scout for the Pirates from 1991-1993. He became the Padres' scouting director in 1993 and then was promoted to General manager in 1995.

The Padres had some of their most successful seasons with KT at the helm. During his tenure as GM, the Padres won four division championships and appeared in a World Series (1998). He was well-liked around the league and earned the nickname of Gunslinger for his fearless and aggressive trade approach. But in 2009, after two straight losing seasons, the Padres let him go.

I remember being really sad when he was fired. The early to late 2000s were when I really started following the Padres closely, and 2009 specifically was when I first started reading and commenting on Gaslamp Ball. I've always remembered this fanpost/poem by Mad_Villain, who summed up many of our feelings about KT as he parted ways with the Padres. These words still hold up, and they especially resonate today as we mourn the loss of a great man.

I miss you Gunslinger, you were mine since I was 10.

I miss you Gunslinger, you built a cheap, yet solid ’pen.

I didn’t always feel loved, but I knew the love was there.

You were sometimes over budget, but the spending was always fair.

You once lived around the corner, in the town of PB,

I would wave and yell while I jogged by, but you just stared at me.

I saw you wash your bulldog once, I wanted to ask if it was Hoff’s,

I saw you making out with a blonde once, I wanted to ask if it was Hoff’s.

You’ve brought me mediocrity, you’ve brought me many tears,

you’ve brought me Brian Giles, for a few too many years.

Thanks for all you’ve given us, I’ll remember all the wins,

Thanks for all you’ve given us, all three Gwynns.

I’ll always remember you Gunslinger, your dark, sunken eyes,

I’ll remember 13 years of question marks, and 1 year of highs.

Godspeed, Gunslinger.

KT will be missed greatly throughout the Padres community, and the baseball world as a whole.