Sam Bowen was a standout pitcher and outfielder for the Glynn Academy Red Terrors from 1968-1970. During his junior season in 1969, Bowen compiled a 4-0 pitching record while sharing mound duties and helping the Terrors to a perfect 18-0 record before the team fell in the state playoffs to Butler High of Augusta. Bowen then played collegiately at Brunswick Junior College and Valdosta State University, where he earned All-America honors. He was selected in the Major League Baseball draft four different times – by Cleveland, Montreal, Atlanta and California – before signing with the Boston Red Sox in 1974.
Bowen spent three seasons in the Boston minor league system before earning a promotion to the Red Sox in 1977 after hitting .265 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs for the Triple-A Pawtucket (R.I.) Red Sox. He started the 1978 season with Pawtucket and was called back to Boston in midseason. He led Pawtucket with 28 home runs – many of them tape-measure blasts – and 75 RBI in 1979. He divided his time between Pawtucket and Boston in 1980. Bowen appeared in three games with the major league Red Sox in 1977, in six games with the big club in 1978 when he belted his only major league home run, and in seven games with the team in 1980.
With any other franchise, Bowen, because of his outstanding minor league numbers, would likely have been a big-league regular. But with the Red Sox’ starting outfield consisting of Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans during his time with the organization, Bowen never got the opportunity to play regularly with the major-league club.
Bowen played in the longest game in professional baseball history between Pawtucket and the Rochester Red Wings, the Class AAA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The game lasted 33 innings and 8 hours, 25 minutes. It was held April 18, 1981 in Pawtucket and was suspended after 32 innings. It resumed on June 23 when the Red Wings returned to Pawtucket and lasted just one more inning with the Red Sox winning 3-2. Bowen played all 33 innings.
Bowen was inducted into the Valdosta State University Hall of Fame in 1997.