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Kevin Towers remembered for his love of baseball and people

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SAN DIEGO — Theo Epstein remembered when he first met Kevin Towers, as a 21-year-old intern working in the San Diego Padres‘ public relations department. Towers was the new general manager.

“I was just out of college,” said Epstein, the Chicago Cubs‘ president of baseball operations. “I was just a nobody, a faceless kid trying to be invisible and not get in the way. But there was never such a thing as a nobody to Kevin Towers — he just wasn’t wired that way.”

Baseball executives and managers left spring training to gather at San Diego’s Petco Park on Sunday and celebrate the life of Towers, who died from complications of a rare form of thyroid cancer on Jan. 30 at the age of 56.

Hall of Famers Trevor Hoffman and Tony La Russa were in the audience, along with Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black and San Francisco Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, both Padres managers under Towers. New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson also were on hand.

Kirk Gibson, who managed Arizona to the 2011 NL West title when Towers was the Diamondbacks’ GM, was among the speakers.

“He looked at players differently,” Gibson said. “When we won, we won with scrappy players. I’m just grateful I got to spend time with Kevin Towers. He meant so much to me and my family.”

A Padres draft pick in 1982, Towers was San Diego’s general manager from 1995 to 2009 and Arizona’s GM from September 2010 until September 2014.

“There are few people that can have a moment like this,” said Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, who replaced Towers as the Padres’ GM. “People came from far and wide to be here.”

Towers led the Padres to four NL West titles and the 1998 NL pennant.

“I took over for him, and he always treated me so well,” Hoyer said. “We would meet for beers or talk on the phone, and it was always with KT wanting to help me do a better job. That doesn’t always happen, and with me being a first-time GM, I just always appreciated that he treated me the way he did.”

Former St. Louis and Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty hired Towers as a special assistant in 2015, what turned out to be Towers’ final baseball job.

“The first time I met Kevin was in 1995 at the GM meetings, and I’m sure it was at the bar,” Jocketty said. “And from that time on, our relationship and friendship grew. He was one of the guys that always brought all the GMs together. Kevin loved life and lived it to the fullest. He suffered a lot in the last two years, but he always stayed positive and fought a brave fight. There will never be another KT.”

Epstein went on to become the GM who in 2004 helped Boston win its first World Series title since 1918 and in 2016 directed the Cubs to their first championship since 1908.

“He was my friend, my boss and my mentor,” Epstein said. “He didn’t care if you were the president of the team, an intern or a backup beat writer for a newspaper — he treated you like you want to be treated. That was KT. It didn’t matter who you were or who you weren’t. He treated you with love and respect. And if he liked you, you were lucky enough to be dragged into his orbit, and then you were in for the ride of your life.”

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Follow live: Bellinger, Dodgers seek 2-0 series lead

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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 1 win of World Series draws record-low viewers

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ARLINGTON, Texas — The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 drew a record-low audience of television viewers for a World Series game.

Los Angeles’ 8-3 win received a 5.1 rating and was seen by an average of 9,195,000 viewers on Fox from 8:06 p.m. to 11:41 p.m. EDT on Tuesday night, Nielsen Media Research said Wednesday.

The previous low had been set the only other time the Rays were in the World Series, when their 5-4 loss to Philadelphia in Game 3 in 2008 was viewed by an average of 9,836,000 that Oct. 25, a Saturday night.

Until now, the low for a Game 1 had been San Francisco’s 7-1 win over Kansas City on Oct. 21, 2012, viewed by an average of 12,191,000 on a Tuesday night.

Washington’s 5-4 victory over Houston in last year’s opener was seen by an average of 12,283,000 on Oct. 22, also a Tuesday night.

Still, Fox won the prime-time evening with its best performance on a Tuesday night since Game 6 of last year’s World Series.

The rating is the percentage of television households tuned in to a broadcast.

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Tampa Bay Rays add two lefty hitters to lineup for Game 2

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Austin Meadows is leading off as the designated hitter for Tampa Bay and first baseman Ji-Man Choi is in the cleanup spot for the Rays in Game 2 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin on the mound for the Dodgers on Wednesday night, the left-handed hitters Meadows and Choi were in the lineup after not starting the series opener against lefty Clayton Kershaw. The Rays had five left-handers in the batting order.

Left-hander Blake Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner, is starting for the Rays after right-hander Tyler Tyler Glasnow opened Game 1.

Kike Hernandez, who entered Tuesday’s 8-3 Dodgers win as a pinch-hitter after Glasnow was out of the game, is getting the Game 2 start at second base. Chris Taylor moves to left field, with AJ Pollock the DH and Will Smith the catcher after being the DH in Game 1.

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