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Warren Cromartie

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Warren Livingston Cromartie
(Cro)

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[edit] Biographical Information

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Warren Cromartie was a regular outfielder and first baseman for the Montreal Expos from 1977 to 1983. He typically hit between .275 and .300, with a peak of .304 in 1981. He reached the majors very quickly after being taken by the Expos in the secondary phase of the 1973 amateur draft - the fifth time he was picked in a draft. He did not begin his professional career until 1974, and then was put directly in the AA Eastern League. He had a fantastic first season with the Quebec Carnavals in 1974, when he hit .336 with 13 homers in 129 games, he made his major league debut in September of that year, going 3 for 17. He moved to the AAA Memphis Blues in 1975 but did not play in the majors. He was part of a tremendous Denver Bears team in 1976, hitting .337 in 107 games. He had a couple of stints with the Expos that season, but failed to carve himself a regular job, hitting .210 in 33 games, but he broke through with a solid season in 1977, playing left field alongside Rookie of the Year Andre Dawson, and hitting .282 with 175 hits in 155 games.

The Expos outfield from 1977 to 1979, composed of Cromartie, Dawson and Ellis Valentine in right field, was considered one of the better ones in major league baseball. After the 1979 season, first baseman Tony Perez left as free agent, while the Expos acquired outfielder Ron LeFlore in a trade. As a result, they moved Cromartie to first base, where he was the regular in both 1980 and 1981. While he did not have the typical power of a first baseman - his career high for homers was 14 in the majors - he was a solid left-handed contact hitter, putting up a .288 batting average the first year and .304 the second. He was a good doubles hitter as well, with 41 in 1977, 46 in 1979, and 33 in 1980. When the Expos acquired first baseman Al Oliver in a trade before the 1982 season, Warren moved again, this time to right field, where he played the next two seasons. His .254 average in 1982 was a big disappointment, as the Expos struggled to find a regular second-place hitter to hit behind Tim Raines, and Warren was one of the players who failed to do much in the job; he bounced back in 1983 with a .278 average, but only 3 homers. However, he was an above-average hitter both years, with an OPS+ of 107 and 106 respectively. He was very popular in Montreal, because of his outgoing personality and sense of humor. He was also a very thoughtful and intelligent man behind the fun exterior, qualities that would serve him well in future years.

He should normally have been re-signed by the Expos after the 1983 season, but baseball was moving into an era of collusion, and he was never given a serious offer. Thus, after being a regular for the Expos for nearly a decade, Cromartie left to play in Japan in 1984. He was a major star in Japan and was extremely popular for showing genuine interest in Japanese culture. After seven seasons there, he returned to the U.S. in 1991 with the Kansas City Royals, hitting .313 in 69 games, then retired.

After his career ended, he wrote a book about his seasons playing baseball in Japan. In 2003 and 2004, he was a guest analyst on some English-language radio broadcasts of Expos games; play-by-play man Elliott Price did not have a regular partner in the booth those years for cost-cutting reasons, and various persons worked with him for a nominal fee in order to gain exposure as a major league broadcaster; Cro was among the best of those who joined Price in the booth, but he had no plans of making it a career. In 2005, he took the reigns of the Japan Samurai Bears of the Golden Baseball League as manager.

In June of 2007, Cromartie said he would take part in a wrestling event to raise money for charity in Japan. He defeated Tiger Jeet Singh in his match and shouted "Bonzai!" Warren wore a baseball jersey with his old number 49.

In 2012, Cromartie founded the "Montreal Baseball Project", a group dedicated to bringing Major League Baseball back to the city where he had enjoyed his greatest success. The grouped sponsored a thorough economic feasibility study that outlined the costs and potential returns of Major League Baseball in the city. In March of 2014, he was instrumental in bringing in the Toronto Blue Jays to play a couple of exhibition games against the New York Mets at Stade Olympique. Fans turned out in huge numbers to the games, most of them sporting Expos gear, underlining his claim that the love for baseball remained undiminished in the French-speaking metropole.

" If anybody can do it, Warren Cromartie can do it. When he puts his mind to something, he doesn't stop until it's done." - Tim Raines, commenting on Cromarties' efforts to bring Major League Baseball back to Montreal.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Warren Cromartie and Robert Whiting: Slugging It Out in Japan: An American Major Leaguer in the Tokyo Outfield, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1992. ISBN 978-0451170767 (originally published in 1991)

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