Robert “Porky” Bowman was named Valley Baseball League Commissioner last month.

The Woodstock River Bandits general manager knows he’s got his work cut out for him trying to replace the late Bruce Alger, who died on Oct. 7. Alger had been the Valley League commissioner since 2017 and had been part of the New Market Rebels’ organization for 56 years.

“There’s no way I can fill his shoes,” Bowman said in a telephone interview on Monday. “Bruce did so much behind the scenes. And that’s the biggest thing that I’m having to learn now is everything that he did.”

Bowman said he will officially take over as commissioner on Jan. 1, and he will be stepping down as Woodstock general manager. He said he plans to serve as a Woodstock River Bandits board member and they will have to find a new general manager for the team.

Bowman has been Woodstock’s general manager since 2009 and he said it wasn’t an easy decision to take the VBL commissioner job, but he felt it was the right move.

“I’d like to carry on what Bruce started and build on it,” Bowman said. “I just think it was the right time. It was devastating to lose Bruce, but he would want us to go on and that’s what we’re going to do. Continue what he started and build on it and go from there.”

Bowman said he learned a lot from Alger that he believes will help him in the new position.

“I was fortunate to know Bruce for 50-plus years, I picked up some things from him,” Bowman said. “When I took over as general manager, he gave me a lot of advice. He was the one that I called when I needed a question answered. He’s going to be missed. It’s going to be a different summer.”

Strasburg GM Jay Neal, who will be one of two vice presidents for the league this year, said he believes Bowman is a good fit for the position.

Bowman said he enjoyed his time as general manager for Woodstock.

“All-in-all, speaking for the board, we had that one down year that really took its toll on us, but we bounced back,” Bowman said. “And I’ve been blessed to have great boards to work with. It’s been fun. It’s been trying at times, but it’s been fun.”

Bowman said many of the teams are already gearing up for the start of a new season with cash parties and trying to find host families. He said he has a couple goals for next year and beyond for the league.

“I think two of my goals is to try to get some corporations involved in the league as sponsors,” Bowman said. “And I’d like to see us build on the fan-friendly atmosphere at the ball parks.”

Bowman said play for the league starts on June 2. He said Covington, which had to shut down early last season due to COVID issues, will be back next season. Bowman said the All-Star game will be held in Front Royal after being held in Harrisonburg for a number of years. Bowman also said he’s also excited about the renovations going on at Winchester’s Bridgeforth Field.

Bowman said he knows several teams plan on putting Alger’s initials on their hats and some are planning on putting up banners in his honor.

“I’m pretty excited about this upcoming season,” Bowman said. “It’s a lot going on that, I knew some of the things going on, but there’s a lot of things going on. And that’s what I find kind of exciting about it is just learning it and seeing what we can do with it.”

– Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at