Twins' Crowley stays in swing of things

June 18, 1991|By Josie Karp | Josie Karp,Evening Sun Staff

When the Orioles demoted Terry Crowley to Triple A Rochester just days before the start of the 1977 baseball season, to retain the services of a youngster by the name of Eddie Murray as designated hitter, the journeyman outfielder made a vow. He was going to bat .300, hit 30 home runs and force the Orioles to recall him.

And on Aug. 12 they did just that. At the time of his recall, Crowley was hitting .308 and led the league with 30

home runs and 80 RBIs.

It was that kind of resolve that Minnesota manager Tom Kelly admired when he made Crowley the Twins' batting instructor before the start of this season.

"Terry is a very hard worker," Kelly said simply.

Crowley, who played parts of 13 seasons with the Orioles and served as their batting coach from 1985 to 1988, last night returned to Memorial Stadium for the first time since the Orioles and Frank Robinson cleaned house af

ter the 1988 season.

"It feels very, very strange to be on the first base [visitors] side of the ballfield," said Crowley, who still makes his home in Hunt Valley. "But it feels great to be home."

Crowley's Orioles ties deepened in 1986, when Baltimore selected his son, Terry Jr., in the eighth round of the June free-agent draft. The Dulaney High product was dealt to Pittsburgh in November of 1987, in the Joe Orsulak trade. Terry Jr. is now with the Pirates' Double A Carolina Mudcats.

Jimmy Crowley, Terry's other son, also was drafted by the Orioles the following year, but chose to attend Clemson instead. The All-America second baseman was drafted by Boston earlier this month, and opens his season tonight in the New York-Penn league.

As for dad, after grappling with the decision at the end of las season, he is glad he decided to join the first-place Twins, especially in light of their recent success.

"When I left the Orioles I signed on with Boston as thminor-league hitting instrictor, and I traveled around to the various cities, and spring training, and the mini-camp for drafted players," Crowley said. "I really enjoyed what I was doing."

But the opportunity to return to the major leagues and the challenge posed by Twins hitters convinced Crowley to make the change.

"The clinching factor was that I was impressed with Tom Kelly i our interview, and Andy MacPhail, our general manager," Crowley said. "They convinced me that there was a need to improve upon the Minnesota Twins' hitting."

Last year the Twins batted .265, fourth in the major leagues. Today, their .279 average leads the majors.

Orioles fans remember Crowley's shining moment in the 1979 World Series, when he doubled off Pittsburgh's Kent Tekulve to win Game Four and put Baltimore up three games to one.

"After that, a lot of writers said, 'Hey, this guy has almost 100 pinch hits,' " Crowley said. "Nobody realizes that until you do it in the World Series."

In his career, Crowley garnered 109 pinch hits, which put him in eighth place all-time when he retired.

Being a good pinch hitter is not much different than being a good hitter in general, Crowley said.

"No. 1, you have to want to be up there in a pressure situation. No. 2, you have to have the ability to get loose right away," Cro ley said. "And then you have to stay tough in between at-bats, because sometimes the at-bats only come once or twice a week."

That ability earned Crowley the nickname The King of Swing.

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