John Lowenstein

From BR Bullpen


John Lee Lowenstein
(Brother Lo)

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

John Lowenstein was an outfielder/utility man 21 years (1966-1986), three in college (1966-1968); four in the minors (1968-1971); and 16 in the Majors (1970-1985); losing most of one year (1969) to the military. He was born on January 27, 1947, in Wolf Point, MT. He graduated from Norte Vista High School, in Riverside, CA, where he starred in baseball, in 1965 at age 18. He then attended the University of California, Riverside (1966-1968), where he starred in baseball and earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropolgy.

Scouted by Bob Nieman of the Cleveland Indians, he was drafted in the 18th round of the 1968 amateur draft by the Indians on June 7, 1968 and he broke into Organized Baseball at age 21 with the Reno Silver Sox in the California League. He played for Reno and the Waterbury Indians in the Eastern League in 196 when he was activated from the California Marine Corps Gold Reserves during the Vietnam War on January 31, 1969 and released from active duty on August 2nd. He played for Reno the rest of the year and in 1970 moved up to the Wichita Aeros in the American Association.

At 23 years of age, he was called up by the Indians and broke into the big leagues on September 2, 1970. Returning to Wichita following Spring Training in 1971, he was again called up by the Indians, but this time it was to stay. On May 17th, the Washington Senators' Tommy McCraw "slugged" a 140-foot home run against the Indians when shortstop Jack Heidemann, center fielder Vada Pinson and Lowenstein, who was playing in left field, all collided on his short pop fly to left center; McCraw circled the bases before the ball was retrieved.

On July 29, 1972, Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles hit a two-out home run in the 11th inning to give Baltimore a 4–3 win over the Indians. Frank Duffy hit his first major league home run for the Tribe and Lowenstein hit a home run in the 9th to briefly give the Indians the lead. On December 6, 1976, he was traded by Cleveland with Rick Cerone to the expansion Toronto Blue Jays in return for Rico Carty, but on March 29, 1977, he was traded back to Cleveland for Hector Torres. On February 28, 1978 he was traded again by the Indians, with P Tom Buskey, to the Texas Rangers for Willie Horton and David Clyde. He played with little fanfare for the Rangers in 1978 and was selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles from the Rangers on November 27th.

Although he was now 31 and "past his prime", he then had his best years with Baltimore from 1979 to 1985. In 1979 he was on the supplemental disabled list from August 9-24th, with a badly sprained ankle. The Orioles defeated the California Angels in the 1979 ALCS, winning the first game on Lowenstein's 10th-inning walk-off pinch hit opposite field home run against John Montague with the score tied 3-3 and two outs. Lowenstein followed this in the World Series on October 13th with a pinch hit two-run double in the 8th inning of Game 4 as the Orioles rallied for six runs after being down 6-3.

In 1980 he was once again on the disabled list, May 19th to June 11th with a badly sprained ankle. On May 25, 1982, Jim Palmer won his 250th career game for Baltimore, 10–3 over the Rangers, with help from Lowenstein's home run. Lowenstein was granted free agency after that season but was re-signed by the Orioles. In 1983 he hit a World Series homer in Game 2 against the Philadelphia Phillies to tie the game in an eventual 4-1 victory as Baltimore won the first of four straight to become World Champions. From 1979 to 1983, he formed an excellent platoon in left field for the Orioles with Gary Roenicke.

He played his final major league game on May 4, 1985 at age 38, retiring from the game, ending his playing career. On May 21st, he was released by the Orioles to make it official.

He is the most prominent position player to come out of UC Riverside. Top pitchers from the university include Troy Percival and Eric Show. In 1991, in his only year of eligibility, he received one vote to the Hall of Fame and dropped off the ballot.

In summary, after spending eight of his first nine major league seasons as a weak-hitting utility player with the Indians and the Rangers, and appearing to be on his way out, Lowenstein was picked up as filler by Baltimore and was used by Earl Weaver most successfully as a platoon player in the outfield. There he blossomed, helping them win a couple of World Series appearances and then faded into retirement. He was a free-spirited outfielder who could not touch left-handed pitching. He could annihilate righties, though, and in 1982, playing only against right-handed pitchers, his .602 slugging average and 7.5 HR percentage would have led the majors if he had had enough at-bats to qualify. And he led all outfielders in fielding, going the entire season (111 games) without an error.

Even when not posting such spectacular numbers, Lowenstein was consistently valuable for the Orioles. (WOR) In 1982, his best year in the majors, he had 103 Hits, 69 Runs, 15 Doubles, 2 Triples, 24 Home Runs, 66 RBI and 7 Stolen Bases at (.320/.415/.602) in 122 Games. In 1970, his best year in the minors, he had 109 Hits, 68 Runs, 15 Doubles, 6 Triples, 18 Home Runs, and 52 RBI at (.295/X/~+43) in 108 Games.

Overall in MLB, he had 881 Hits, 510 Runs, 137 Doubles, 18 Triples, 116 Home Runs, 441 RBI and 128 Stolen Bases at (.253/.337/.403) in 1,368 Games.Overall in the minors, he had 221 Hits, 125 Runs, 35 Doubles, 10 Triples, 34 Home Runs and 131 RBI. Including 1983, he played in 17 postseason Games with 10 Hits, 6 Runs, 3 Doubles, 2 Home runs and 9 RBI at (.263/.333/.500).

Lowenstein was a color commentator for Baltimore Orioles television broadcasts for a decade (1986-1995). His principal hobbies were golf, traveling and hunting. He celebrated his 59th birthday in 2006 at his current residence in Las Vegas, NV.

Records Held[edit]

  • Most Positions Homering (9) (including DH/PH) (tied with Rex Hudler)

Other Highlights[edit]

  • Had 1.000 Fielding Average in the outfield, 1970-1972 (78 Games), 1972 (58 games), 1977 (39 games) and 1982 (111 games)
  • Led American League Outfielders in Fielding Average (1.000) in 1982


  • "He murders fastballs from the middle of the plate on in, but can slow up his stride enough to time a curve and line it to right-center… is rated an excellent clutch hitter… seems to enjoy contact with fences, and like Lou Piniella, he does not look pretty chasing fly balls." — from the 1984 Scouting Report
  • "The man's (Earl Weaver) a genius at finding situations where an average player - like me - can look like a star because of subtle factors working in your favor. He has a passion for finding the perfect player for the perfect spot."
  • "I flush the john between innings to keep my wrists strong (fitness tip for designated hitters)."
  • "Sure, I screwed up that sacrifice bunt. But look at it this way: I'm a better bunter than a billion Chinese. Those suckers can't bunt at all."
  • "The secret to keeping winning streaks going is to maximize the victories while at the same time minimizing the defeats*
  • "If you act like you know what you're doing, you can do anything you want - except neurosurgery."
  • "Nuclear war would render all baseball statistics meaningless"
  • "Baseball is reality at its harshest... You have to introduce a fictional world to survive."

Notable Achievements[edit]


Principal sources for John Lowenstein include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (1971-1986) (WW), old Baseball Registers (1971-1986) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) and The Biographical Encyclopedia: Baseball by the Editors of Total Baseball and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.

Further Readiing[edit]

  • Mike Klingaman, "Orioles outfielder John Lowenstein was in his own world", The Baltimore Sun, July 28, 2015. [1]
  • John Lowenstein (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, August 1990, pp. 57-58. [2]

Related Sites[edit]