Monday, March 17, 2014

#648 - Terry Crowley

Here we have the subject of the penultimate Traded card in the set in Terry Crowley, who actually looks relieved in the hatless photo of the Traded card, which is usually why those photos were taken in the first place. Terry was actually itching for a trade as his usage in ’73 was way less than he thought was warranted. After being Baltimore’s Opening Day DH – and going 2 for 4 – he was pretty quickly supplanted by Tommie Davis after Terry’s average moved down to Mendoza levels by mid-April and never really recovered. The rest of the season he got a little outfield and first base work and also some as DH and pinch hitter. That last role would become sort of a double-edged sword for Terry since he would gain some notoriety for his performance in that position, but his degree of skill at it would limit his usage elsewhere. But all that wouldn’t happen until his second go-around in Baltimore. Regarding the trade – actually a sale – like some recent subjects, Terry wouldn’t actually play a regular season game for his new team and by the time these cards came out he’d be with a whole other team in a whole other league.

Terry Crowley grew up on Staten Island in NYC where he was a Yankees fan and a pitcher. He had acquired lots of MLB interest in that role in high school until he was injured his senior year and he had to leave pitching behind. When interest abated he decided to go to Long Island University where he relocated to the outfield and his sophomore year was an All-American. That performance got the scouts interested again and Baltimore drafted him that spring of ’66, but he took so long to sign that he only got some IL ball that year. In ’67 he played mostly first base in A ball where he hit .262 with some good power – ten triples - and stole 21 bases. He then split ’68 between Double A and Triple A, hitting a combined .265 while playing mostly outfield at the lower level and first base the latter part of the season. In ’69 he had a big year at the higher level with a .282/28/83 line before a September call-up got him in the middle of some division-run action. In ’70 he stayed with Baltimore as a reserve outfielder/first baseman and hit pretty well in his limited work, posting a .394 OBA. In ’71 he hurt his leg during spring training, missed some time, and was sent to Triple A for rehab. He had a big year, posting a .282/19/63 line with a .399 OBA in just 259 at bats while playing first, though his short time back up wasn’t too productive. But in ’72 a hot start got him a bunch of starts in right field in the wake of Frank Robinson’s trade to LA. By the end of May his average was at .378, but a sub-.200 the rest of the way would contribute to his return to the minors in ’73. In the meantime, though, he had a pretty good action card in that ’73 set.

Crowley did not make it out of spring training with Texas in ’74 and went to Cincinnati in a sale. In a prelude of things to come, he would get some outfield work, but the majority of his time was spent in the pinch. In ’74 he put up a .204/0/7 line in 59 plate appearances in that role and in the Series year of ’75 he upped it to .280/0/4 with a .357 OBA in 56 appearances. Following that year he went to Atlanta in a trade for pitcher Mike Thompson, but after just a couple games he was released. Shortly thereafter he was picked up by the Orioles and he initially put in some games at Triple A, where he hit .261, before returning to Baltimore for some games at DH but lots more in the pinch, hitting .246 overall in 61 at bats. In ’77 he was back in Triple A where he had another big year with a .308/30/80 line in just over 400 at bats before he made some late appearances with the O’s and hit .467 with nine RBI’s in just 15 at bats. That success pretty much sealed his fate the next few years as he rejoined the Earl Weaver platoon system as a sometime left-handed DH and mostly pinch hitter. He especially delivered the next two seasons with a line of .368/0/9 with a .372 OBA in 38 ’78 at bats and in ’79 of .302/1/7/.426 in 43 at bats. He became a fan favorite and was the subject of a pretty hilarious foul-mouthed Earl Weaver diatribe that can be heard on YouTube. That second year he helped Baltimore to its final pennant of the Seventies. In ’80 he got his most time at DH, putting up a line of .288/12/50 in just 233 at bats. His average came down a bit in the ’81 strike season, though his line of .246/4/25 with a .376 OBA was still impressive for just 134 at bats. He closed things out with another year as a pinch guy in ’82 before doing some time with Montreal in the same role in ’83. Terry finished with a .250 average, 42 homers, and 229 RBI’s and a pretty good .345 OBA. In the post-season he hit .273 with three RBI’s in 13 games.

After playing Crowley turned immediately to coaching for what would turn into a long run in that role. In ’84 he became Baltimore’s minor league hitting coach before joining the Orioles from ’85 to ’88. He then spent ’89 to ’90 in the Boston system as its hitting coordinator before joining Minnesota for a long successful run from ’91 to ’98. He then returned to the Orioles as the team’s hitting coach from ’99 to 2010 before giving up that role to become the system hitting evaluator, a position he still holds.

There are lots of one-liners in the star bullets. In ’70 Terry hit .310 as a pinch hitter with a .429 OBA. Regarding the homer, it won the game in the 10th inning to put the O’s only a game back. Unfortunately some under-.500 ball the rest of the way kept them in third place.

Well, that’s a nice headline. It makes Terry seem like a box of fruit. He was sold to Texas for $100,000, not a bad price back then. This post goes up on St. Patrick's Day; I gotta believe this guy has at least a little Irish in him.

The connection here could have been Texas, had things gone a bit differently:

1. Crowley and Bobby Grich ’70 to ’73 and ’76 Orioles;
2. Grich and Juan Beniquez ’81 to ’85 Angels.

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