Out of Left Field: Still Waiting For "The Show"

<i>PhillyBaseballNews.com</i> takes a look at the career of Scranton Wilkes-Barre manager Marc Bombard. Today, it's a look at his accomplishments and how he got to where he is today. Tomorrow, Bombard talks about his career and what may lie ahead now that he's hit the 1,500 win mark as a minor league manager.

On Saturday, May 1st, he won his 1500th professional game, but Scranton/Wilkes Barre's Marc Bombard is still the best manager no one has heard of. To put those 1500 wins in perspective: he has won nearly 400 more professional games than Larry Bowa, Bob Boone, Charlie Manuel, and Joe Kerrigan combined, and is the minor league's winningest active manager. He has been named Manager of the Year five times, most recently in 2002 when he led the Red Barons to an all-time best 91-53 record. He is widely regarded as the best managerial prospect in the minor leagues, but when you ask Phillies fans to name the most likely successor should Larry Bowa not last the season, Bombard is rarely named, and never mentioned before Boone, Manuel, and Kerrigan.

Marc Bombard came out of Eastwood High School (El Paso, Texas) in 1967 as a heralded outfielder and pitcher. He went on to a prolific career at the University of Texas-El Paso, where he won 28 games as a pitcher; still a Miners record. In 1971, while on his way to 13 victories, Bombard shutout perennial national power Arizona State University. In that same game, Bombard ended the 45-game hitting streak of ASU outfielder Roger Schmuck, a streak that stood as an NCAA record for nearly ten years and is still the third longest hitting streak in NCAA history.

From 1971 to 1977, Bombard pitched in the Cincinnati Reds organization, compiling a 39-39 record in 152 games. In 1975, while a player/coach for the Reds farm club in the Florida State League, Bombard pitched a perfect game against Lakeland. He never got the call to the major leagues though, and in 1978 became a full-time coach in the Reds organization.

Bombard's managerial career started in 1982 with the Reds rookie league club in Billings, Montana, and led the team to the league championship in 1983 with a 43-27 record. He earned himself a promotion to the Reds high-A Tampa affiliate where he compiled a record of 290-260 in four seasons. At Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1988, Bombard led the Reds A-level team to the Midwest League title with a record of 87-53, garnering the first of those five Manager of the Year awards.

Bombard left the Reds organization the next season to accept a job with the Brewers AA team in his hometown of El Paso, but left the Brewers after one season, ending up with the Pirates where he earned a promotion to the AAA Buffalo team in 1992. After leading Buffalo to an American Association best 87-57 record - and earning another Manager of the Year award - Bombard jumped back to the Reds organization, accepting the managerial job at AAA Indianapolis.

From 1993-1995, Bombard compiled a 240-190 record with Indianapolis, winning the league championship in 1994 and earning back-to-back Manager of the Year awards in 1994 and 1995. In 1995, Baseball America named Bombard Minor League Manager of the Year. Other notable winners of this award are Buck Showalter, Kevin Kennedy, Butch Hobson, Grady Little, Terry Francona, and Carlos Tosca, all of whom have parlayed that award into a big league managerial stint; but not Marc Bombard.

After spending 1996 as the Reds third base coach, the Phillies stole Bombard to manage their AAA affiliate in 1997, where he has remained ever since. Coming into this season, he had compiled a record of 505-433 with the Red Barons, leading them to four straight playoff appearances between 1999 and 2002 and earning that fifth Manager of the Year award in 2002. In addition to winning his 1500th game, Bombard has the Phillies AAA franchise leading the International League's Northern Division once again, compiling the best record in the league so far in 2004.

Although 1996 could be considered his first stint in "The Show" that is major league baseball, and he spent time with the big club in Philadelphia in 2001, filling in for John Vukovich, Marc Bombard is still awaiting his true "call-up"; the one that makes him a Major League Manager. With Bombard's obvious managerial skills, demonstrated over twenty-plus years with multiple organizations at every level, it shouldn't be long now. People will come to know his name, and he will have earned every ounce of recognition that he gets. It still waits to be seen if that will be in Phillies pinstripes or not.

DN Curry comes to you Out of Left Field every Thursday on PhillyBaseballNews.com. You can email him at dncurry@comcast.net.

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