“Terry Crowley’s lucky he’s in f**king baseball, for crissakes…We saw that Terry Crowley could sit on his ass for eight innings and enjoy watching a baseball game just like any other fan and has the ability to get up there and break one open in the f**king ninth.” – Earl Weaver
For the uninitiated, that golden baseball quote comes from an outtake of Earl Weaver’s radio show, “Manager’s Corner”. Now, The Earl was just having a gaff and probably only partially believed in what he was saying. There is some truth to it though. Terry Crowley was one hell of a pinch hitter.
The Orioles drafted Crowley in 1966, but Crowley refused to sign unless he got a big enough bonus. With a little grease from Orioles scouts, he got that bonus and on to the minors he went.
“The Crow” progressed pretty cleanly through the minors and got his spot on the Opening Day roster in 1970. Crowley made 34 starts on the 108-win ballclub and was about as average as you could get, until you needed a pinch hitter. He posted a .290 average in pinch hitting situations that season.
“It’s a job usually handled by a veteran,” Crowley said of his role at the time. “It’s a big adjustment to go from playing every day to pinch-hitting.”
He would go on to make history in ’73 as the first Designated Hitter in Orioles history after the American League adopted the rule. But that was the only history he could make that season as he lost the job after batting a measly .206 and was later traded.
Crowley milled around the league for a few years before joining the O’s again in 1977. This is where we see the legend of “The Crow” begin. From 1977 through 1981, Crowley hit .314 as a pinch-hitter for the Orioles.
“I’ve been doing it for so long that people just naturally think I’m older,” Crowley said at the time. “I’ve been around for a while, and I’ve been in a couple of World Series. A year ago, people thought I was washed up, though I was only 30 years old.”
Crowley would be voted Best Pinch Hitter in 1979 and would continue to deliver many clutch hits for the O’s including a go-ahead double in Game 4 of the 1979 World Series.
“The Crow” could only do what he did for so long though as he retired after the 1983 season. All that time riding the pine, waiting for his chance to shine, didn’t go to waste. Crowley found his next calling in coaching.
“I spent so much time watching,” Crowley once said as a player. “And guys would sometimes ask me for advice.”
He served with O’s and Red Sox from 1984 to 1990 at all levels. His first long time tenure began in 1991 as the Twins hitting coach, who coincidentally won the World Series that year.
“If they’re good enough to get here to this level, then they must be doing something right.” Crowley once said, explaining his coaching style. “Unless there’s something I see that absolutely prevents them from having success at this level, I’ll basically leave them alone and try to help them improve their own style, to improve on their own.”
Crowley left the Twins in 1998 and returned to Baltimore, serving on the managerial staff from 1999 to 2010. Crowley finally decided to hang up the jersey and try his hand at scouting for the O’s as a hitting evaluator where he remains to this day.
A reporter once asked The Crow what made a good pinch hitter. “First off, I believe you need to be a pretty darned good hitter.” Crowley responded. “And secondly, you have to want to be up in that spot. You have to look forward to tight situations, pressure-filled situations. And you have to be able to respond on short notice.”
That’s about how The Crow flies.
Allen, Malcolm. “Terry Crowley.” Society for American Baseball Research, sabr.org/bioproj/person/c1e2fb55#sdendnote6sym.
Hirsch, Arthur. “Coaching keeps Crowley in the swing of things” The Sun; Baltimore, Md. 23 June 1994
Schmuck, Peter. “DH turns 30; O’s recall rule as hit from start ; Baseball: The likes of Terry Crowley and Tommy Davis embraced the new rule in 1973, with Davis adding a little extra mustard to his prowess” The Sun; Baltimore, Md. 06 Apr 2003
Kubatko, Roch. “Q&A — TERRY CROWLEY” The Sun; Baltimore, Md. 19 Mar 2007