Jim Bowden, the only general manager in the Washington Nationals‘ history, announced his resignation this morning. No immediate successor has been named, and team president Stan Kasten said he would not address “next steps” until later in the week.
Players were notified in a team meeting with Bowden, team president Stan Kasten, assistant general managers Mike Rizzo and Bob Boone and manager Manny Acta. While insisting he had done nothing wrong, Bowden was choked up on several occasions as he read a statement announcing his resignation because his “ability to properly represent the Washington Nationals has been compromised because of false allegations contained in the press” over his role in the Nationals’ operations in the Dominican Republic, which have been part of a league-wide federal investigation. On several occasions, Bowden deviated from the statement to say things in his own words.
“I’ve become a distraction, and unless you’re Manny Ramirez, there’s no place for distractions in baseball,” Bowden said. “I want to be able to turn the page, and I want this franchise to have everybody, from the media to the fans, focus on what the game is about. It’s about players. It’s about what happens on the field.”
He did not take questions, and Kasten would not comment on when the decision was made for Bowden to resign.
Kasten called it “gracious and professional that Jim recognized what was swirling around wasn’t agood thing.
“He did something, as he said, in the best interests of the franchise. I know none of us are perfect and none of us bats 1.000, and certainly any mistakes he made here during his tenure are well chronicled. But I think there’s been an abundance of piling on during his time. You really all should take account of the things he did while he was here under very difficult conditions.”
Here are the statements from both Bowden and Kasten. We’ll certainly have more later this morning:
STATEMENT FROM JIM BOWDEN
I am today resigning my position as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Washington Nationals. It is an emotional decision that saddens me, but one that I feel is in the best interests of two of the things I love most - baseball and the Washington Nationals.
My resignation is based upon my realization that my ability to properly represent the Washington Nationals has been compromised because of false allegations contained in the press. I am disappointed by the media reports regarding investigations into any of my professional activities. There have been no charges made, and there has been no indication that parties have found any wrongdoing on my part.
At the same time, while I have done nothing wrong, I place a greater value on the love, respect, and best interests of my family, friends, the game of baseball — that I’ve served lovingly and faithfully for close to 25 years — and, the reputation and future of the Washington Nationals, which I’m proud to have been a part of since its inception in 2004.
I believe I have had one of the great challenges afforded to any general manager in baseball. I was hired in November 2004 to make day-to-day baseball decisions on an interim basis with no ownership group, no permanent place to play and no legitimate minor league system. There was little to no budget for a major league roster. But, with the help of some very special assistants, we persevered. Today, we have some of the best owners in the game. We have one of the finest new ballparks, with a beautiful view of the Nation’s Capitol. And, we are headed in the right direction with the nucleus of a young, competitive and interesting major league baseball team that is capable of turning into a contender in a short period of time.
I’m proud to have had the opportunity to be part of such a special organization with so many tremendous people who will always be my friends, and am also proud of my contributions to Major League Baseball, the Washington Nationals and the game.
I wish nothing but success to the Lerner Family, Stan Kasten and the Washington Nationals organization, and to the very special players and front office personnel with whom I’ve built strong and meaningful relationships. I also want to thank all of the players, managers, coaches, front office staff and ownership for treating my family members like their own.
In closing, let me state this is a bittersweet moment for me. While I will always have the experiences and fond memories of my relationships with the Nationals, Stan Kasten and the Lerner family, who have always been gracious and fair in their dealings with me, I will also carry with me the cold hard realization that my life has been turned upside down by a news media that prints entire stories attributed solely to anonymous sources who refuse to be identified and who are free to allege anything they choose for any purpose without fear of retribution. One can only understand the impact of false allegations, insinuations and innuendos by the press if they themselves been the subject of those false allegations. However, I also want to thank the many media members, who have dealt with me with fairness and professionalism, and they far outweigh the others.
Like anyone else, I have made mistakes in all areas of my personal and professional life, but I leave here with the true belief that I have done nothing intentionally to harm the Washington Nationals or Major League Baseball. The team, the fans and media can now turn all of their attention from the distractions off-the-field to where it belongs, on the baseball field for the Washington Nationals and their upcoming 2009 championship season.
STATEMENT FROM STAN KASTEN
We greatly respect and admire the decision made today by Jim Bowden. He showed characteristic poise and maturity, and demonstrated his selfless love for the game and the Washington Nationals.
We all believe it is imperative that we honor the integrity of the game and that fans be able to concentrate their attention and affections on the game and players on the field. Jim has maintained his innocence, but recognized that he had become a distraction, and with great grace determined to do what was best for the team and his players.
As the only general manager in the history of the Washington Nationals, his influence and direct imprint on the franchise is immeasurable. He was hired by Major League Baseball to manage a nearly unmanageable situation, without the benefit of local ownership. But, he knew he would be serving a fan base long hungry for the return of big league baseball to the Nation’s Capital. He accepted the challenge and fulfilled it with enthusiasm, intelligence, and gritty determination.
Jim’s efforts to develop a competitive club on the field, while dedicating himself to building a minor league system second to none, will serve the Washington Nationals for years to come.
The Washington Nationals ownership group, management, players, and fans, owe a great deal to Jim Bowden. He laid the groundwork for a team that we know will be a perennial contender in the National League East and throughout the league. We wish him all the best.