Fast feet, a strong arm, soft hands, a quick temper, and unlimited determination characterized Bowa’s years as an outstanding ML shortstop. Often at odds with teammates, managers, and members of the media, Bowa never let distractions influence his play in the field. When he finished his playing career in 1985, he held the NL record for games played at shortstop (2,222), years leading NL shortstops in fielding (6), and for fewest errors in a season of 150 or more games (9). He also holds the ML record for highest fielding percentage for a career (.980) and for a season of over 100 games (.991).
A powerless switch-hitter early in his career, he developed into a tough out, hitting .280 or better four times, with a high of .305 in 1975, and seldom striking out. He was always a good basestealer, finishing with 318 for his career. With Bowa at short, the Phillies won division titles from 1976 to 1978 and the world championship in 1980.
Bowa was named manager of the Padres before the 1987 season, but his aggressive and often angry style was ineffective, and he was fired after leading San Diego to a 16-30 start in 1988.