Sunday, November 20, 2011

#279 - Jim Crawford

Jim Crawford's rookie card has him posing at Candlestick. Jim was a very recent hot property, having been an All-American at Arizona State where he played for both Bobby Winkles, who we just saw, and his successor, Jim Brock. He did well at ASU, winning 33 during his career there, including a senior year during which he went 12-1. He was the losing pitcher in the '72 CWS against USC even though he did not give up an earned run in his 20 innings of tournament ball (he wild pitched a run home early in the game). He was a big boy of whom a lot was expected, but things didn't really go his way.

Jim Crawford was born in Chicago and moved to Arizona as a kid where he starred in baseball for Rincon High School in Tucson. A teammate there was Pat Darcy who would pitch in the mid-'70's for the Reds. Jim was drafted by the new Padres out of high school in '68 but instead went to Arizona State where he played through '72. He also pitched summers for the Glacier Pilots in Alaska for whom he ranks third in both innings pitched and strikeouts for a career. While there he pitched the Pilots to the summer series title by putting up a 0.29 ERA in over 30 innings in the team's initial year of '69 (he also won in '71). The Astros then drafted him in '72 and he kicked off his career in excellent fashion in Rookie and Double A ball that year. In '73 he played strictly in Houston where he moved to the pen and added six saves to his record. He moved back to the minors for '74, going 11-10 at Triple A Denver with a 4.96 ERA. After a shutout in his first start at that level in '75 he returned to Houston, going 3-5 with a 3.63 ERA and four saves in 44 games. He was then traded to the Tigers - he had a Traded card in the '76 set - with Milt May and Dave Roberts for Leon Roberts, Terry Humphrey, Mark Lemongello, and Gene Pentz.

The Detroit team on which Crawford landed was pretty bad and while Jim would improve on his walk to strikeouts ratio and pitch a bunch more innings, he gave up too many hits and his '76 season was not so hot as he went 1-8 with a 4.53 ERA with a couple saves. He wouldn't be able to get his ERA back below 4.00 during the next couple seasons and although his record over that time improved a bit (to a combined 9-11) he would end up retiring before the '78 season was over. Jim finished with a record of 15-28 with 13 saves and a 4.40 ERA.

After playing Crawford did...what? I have been trying to track this guy down for the better part of a day and I come up with nothing. So let's just assume he happily rode off to obscurity.

Jim's got some pretty good star bullets for a guy just starting out. That second one is a big deal because nobody since has won an extra-inning game that was his first one in the majors. Jim was a pretty good hitter, actually. His career average was .267 up top and .235 in the minors.
In music, on November 20th in '73 Who drummer Keith Moon collapsed onstage when the band was touring for its amazing (that's a bit of a bias) "Quadrophenia" album. He was pretty much stoned out of his mind and rather than end the concert, the rest of the band had a 19-year old kid from the audience come up to the stage and fill in Moon's place on drums. Now that's a rock and roll fantasy come true if I ever heard one.

If I can't find Jim now at least I can find him a hook-up to Cookie:

1. Crawford and Jose Cruz '75 Astros;
2. Cruz and Rick Wise '72 to '73 Cards;
3. Wise and Cookie Rojas '64 and '66 to '69 Phillies.

1 comment:

  1. He grew up in Tucson and went to ASU? interesting