Related Biography: Pitching Coach Art Fowler
John Arthur "Art" Fowler, born July 3, 1922, in Converse, South Carolina, was Billy Martin's pitching coach from the time Martin took over as manager of the Minnesota Twins in 1969 until George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, fired Fowler in June 1983. He was rehired briefly during the mid-1980s but was fired again in June 1988, along with Martin.
Although some critics said Fowler was Martin's "drinking buddy," the two had great success with players. The tough and disagreeable Martin passed along his instructions to Fowler, who then, amicably and with a sense of humor, passed them along to the players. The three-way rapport worked well. The Twins came up from seventh to first place in the American League Western Division in 1969 under Martin and Fowler. In 1972 the pair helped to bring the Detroit Tigers in first, over the Baltimore Orioles, who had been on a winning streak. In 1974 the Texas Rangers improved by twenty-seven games and finished second to Oakland. Martin and Fowler went on to three American League pennants and two World Series wins with the New York Yankees from 1976 to 1978 and first- and second-place wins at Oakland in the early 1980s.
Fowler was mostly a relief pitcher during his playing days, with the Cincinnati Reds (1954-57), the Los Angeles Dodgers (1959), and the Los Angeles Angels (1961-64). His brother Jesse had played with the St. Louis Cardinals thirty years before Art began his career in the major leagues. Art finished his pitching career with a 54-51 record, 539 strikeouts and thirty-two saves.
Martin wrote in his autobiography Billyball, "My pitching coach, Art Fowler, has taught our pitchers how to throw the spitball." Fowler also encouraged them to throw strikes. Pitcher Matt Keough recalled, "Art was master of the psychological approach. If you weren't throwing strikes, you'd have to go to the bullpen and watch him … throw fifty pitches- and forty-five for strikes. It was embarrassing."
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