This ‘Phillies 50’ series highlights the most random pitcher and position player from each of the Phillies teams during the half-century in which I’ve followed the club.

The 2004 pitching entry is southpaw Jim Crowell, who appeared in just four games with that Phillies ball club. It was his lone season in Philly, one of just three big-league campaigns with three different clubs lasting a total of 10 games.

Crowell is a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota who signed with the Cleveland Indians in June 1995 as an undrafted amateur free agent out of the University of Indianapolis. Two years later the Tribe included him as part of a six-player trade with the Cincinnati Reds.

In September 1997, Crowell was called up to Cincinnati when rosters expanded in September. He would make his Major League Baseball debut that month, pitching in two games. The first came in relief, but he was also given a starting opportunity by Reds’ manager Jack McKeon. On September 27, 1997 he was beaten up for seven earned runs and 10 hits including a pair of homers by the host Montreal Expos, suffering a loss in what would prove to be his only career MLB decision.

Those were his only big-league appearances. After pitching for three years in the Reds minor league system, Crowell was given his release in July 2000. But healthy 26-year-old lefties are rarely left hanging for long, and just 11 days later he was signed by the Saint Louis Cardinals.

The Cards would release him at the end of spring training in 2001 and just over three weeks later he landed with the San Diego Padres, who kept him through early July.

In 2002, Crowell was pitching well for independent Atlantic City and manager Mitch Williams, the former Phillies reliever, over 19 starts. The Phillies heard positives from Williams and decided to give Crowell a shot, signing him on July 2. He would end that summer with four strong appearances at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

Jim definitely has a big-league arm, big-league stuff,” Williams said per Al Hamnik at nwi.com at the time. “He’s like a sponge. He’s absorbed everything I’ve told him. When players listen and apply what they’ve learned, then you’ve done your job as a manager or a coach. He’ll do well wherever he goes. I don’t have to worry about Jim changing. Not at all. He’s good people and good things happen to good people.”

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Atlantic City Surf pitching coach Mitch Williams demonstrates some pitching moves to Jim Crowell (30) during first season practices at the Sandcastle Wednesday, May, 1, 2002. (EDWARD LEA)

After a mostly lost 2003 back at Triple-A, Crowell got off to a strong start with the Red Barons in 2004. That prompted his call-up in May when the Phillies staff was thinned out by injuries.

Crowell allowed an earned run on two hits during just 1/3 of an inning of a 7-4 Phillies home loss to the Cardinals in his May 6, 2004 debut with the club. He then accompanied the team on a west coast swing and allowed another run, unearned this time, on two more hits in San Francisco. Things would get better. His final two appearances that month at Coors Field and back in Philly were both scoreless.

In all, Crowell allowed six hits and two runs, one earned, over three full innings. He struck out one opposing batter and walked none. He finished out the year pitching well back at Scranton-Wilkes Barre and became a free agent after the season.

Signed by the Florida Marlins, Crowell would get four more May appearances with the Fish in 2005, all out of their bullpen. Those would be his last appearances on a mound in Major League Baseball.

Released in the middle of that month of May by Florida, Crowell would bounce across three more organizations over the next two years. That included another stint back with the Phillies pitching at Triple-A in 2006 and at the very beginning of the 2007 campaign.

 

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