A Loyal Citizen of the Nation alerted me to this interesting piece over at The Hardball Times:
Some players are just destined to be overlooked. Consider the case of George Crowe. The former Negro Leagues and National League first baseman died on Jan. 18, at the age of 89, yet there was nary a mention from most Internet baseball sources. I first learned about his passing while reading Bill MaddenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Sunday column in the New York Daily News. A few other newspapers covered the story, including the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News, but for the most part the coverage seemed so shallow and incomplete. Though hardly a household name, George Crowe deserved better, even if the lack of attention probably wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have bothered him in the slightest.
Who exactly was George Crowe, you might ask? A left-handed hitting first baseman with power, he was baseballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s original Ã¢â‚¬Å“Big Daddy,Ã¢â‚¬Â given the nickname long before Rick Reuschel, Cecil Fielder and (among todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s players) Cardinals star Matt Holliday. Crowe was also known as Ã¢â‚¬Å“Big George.Ã¢â‚¬Â Either nickname described him well. He was 6-foot-2 l and weighed 215 pounds during his career, dimensions that might not sound overly large today, in the modern era of weight lifting, steroids and HGH, but were certainly well above average for ballplayers in the 1950s and ’60s.
As a ballplayer, Crowe was not a star, not a dominant player in either the Negro Leagues or the big leagues, but a solid ballplayer who enjoyed one season of glory with the Reds in the mid-1950s. As an amateur, he was actually a better performer at basketball. In fact, he was such a standout that he was named the first Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mr. BasketballÃ¢â‚¬Â in Indiana state history.
Go read the entire article; there’s a ton of great stuff in there. As our Loyal Citizen said in his email:
Big Daddy died recently. That man had power. I’m old enough to remember him. Interesting life outside of baseball. I thought he would be worth a mention on Redleg Nation.
Worth a mention indeed. One more quick hit from the article:
In 1956, the Braves traded him to the Reds, where he played sparingly before getting his first fulltime playing opportunity the following summer. Replacing the injured Ted Kluszewski at first base, the 36-year-old Crowe emerged as an All-Star, erupting for a career-high 31 home runs and slugging a solid .504. Those were numbers that were close to Big KluÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s level of production in 1956.
Again, go read the whole thing. It’s fascinating, and I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know more about Crowe than I did before reading this.