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Terry Crowley

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Terrence Michael Crowley
(The Crow)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Terry Crowley was a left-handed hitter who had a long career primarily as a pinch-hitter and designated hitter. His defense was always well below average, and although he spent some time at first base and in the outfield, it was his bat that kept him in the game.

Even as a batter he had his shortcomings. His lack of a defensive position meant that he had to hit a lot to justify a spot in the line-up, but his power was limited for a player of this type. What he could do was hit line drives and get on base when facing righthanders (against left-handers, he was overmatched and had to be platooned). Most teams found that the negatives eventually outweighed the positives, but for Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver, he was the type of player he used to complement big name stars on very successful teams. Weaver focussed on what Crowley could do - hit righties and pinch-hit -, and did not ask him to be a complete player, thereby getting good production out of him.

The Orioles drafted Crowley, who grew up in the New York City area, in the 11th round of the 1966 amateur draft and he made his debut with the team at the tail end of the 1969 season, hitting .333 in 7 games. He was part of the Orioles' World Series-winning team in 1970, hitting .257/.394/.388 in 83 games. He was 0 for 1 in the Series against the Cincinnati Reds in his only postseason action that year. He started slowly in 1971, batting .174 in 18 games and went back to the minors. In 1972, his busiest season in the majors, he only hit .231 in 97 games, but his 11 homers and a fair number of walks gave him a solid OPS+ of 112. He fell back to .206 with little power in 1973, when he had the honor of being Baltimore's first-ever designated hitter on Opening Day (Tommy Davis eventually pushed him out of the job, however). He was sold to the Texas Rangers after that season and was sold again during the following spring training, ending up with the Cincinnati Reds for two seasons.

Crowley became a pinch-hitting specialist with the Reds and did fairly well in that demanding role. In 1974, he hit .240, getting 125 at-bats in 84 games, and in 1975 he was part of another World Champion team after hitting .268 in 66 games (and getting only 71 at-bats). He made a few starts in right field the first of those two seasons, but made only 8 appearances on defense in 1975. He went 1 for 2 as a pinch-hitter during the 1975 World Series facing the Boston Red Sox. After the season, the Reds obtained Bob Bailey in a trade with the Montreal Expos and Crowley was made redundant, as Bailey, although right-handed, was very much the same player as Crowley, but with more power. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves at the end of spring training in 1976, then after only 7 games during which he went hitless, was released and picked up by the Orioles once again. He spent much of the remainder of the season and most of 1977 with the AAA Rochester Red Wings, playing 51 games in Baltimore over the two years. However, he hit .364 in limited duty the second year and became a full-time member of the O's starting the following season.

From 1978 to 1982, Crowley played between 61 and 92 games every year as one of Earl Weaver's specialized lefty bats. He hit as high as .317 in 1979, when the Orioles returned to the World Series, going 1 for 4 with a double in the Fall Classic as the O's fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games. His best season was in 1980, when the Orioles won over 100 games and he hit .288/.364/.476 in 233 at-bats - the second-most of his career. He hit a career-best 12 homers and drove in 50 runs as the team's primary DH against righties, taking at-bats away from an aging Lee May. He kept that role in 1981, but his statistics fell back somewhat, then in 1982 he was back to pinch-hitting because Ken Singleton was the primary DH, now that age had made him a defensive liability in the outfield.

Crowley was released by the Orioles during spring training in 1983, thus missing the team's most recent World Championship, but was picked up by the Montreal Expos in late May, who used him almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter. He hit .182 in 50 games and was released for a final time at the end of the season. He ended his major league career with a .250 average in 15 seasons, getting only 1518 at-bats. He hit 62 doubles and 42 homers, but only 1 triple - he never had any speed - but an OBP of .345 and a slugging percentage of .375 meant that his OPS+ for his career was 104, which is not bad for a player who spent a large chunk of his career as a pinch-hitter.

After his playing career ended, Crowley has spent many years as a hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins (1991-1998) and Baltimore Orioles (1985-1988 and 1999-2010). He was a hitting instructor in the Orioles' organization to begin the 2011 season, then stepped in as interim bullpen coach on June 14, replacing Rick Adair who became pitching coach when Mark Connor retired.

His son Terry Crowley Jr. played in the minors.

[edit] Notable Achievements

[edit] Further Reading

  • Thomas Boswell: "Smoky's Children", in Why Time Begins on Opening Day, Penguin Books, New York, 1984, pp. 201-206.

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