|Born: September 7, 1946|
Los Angeles, California
|Died: August 27, 2004 (aged 57)|
Los Angeles, California
|Batted: Left||Threw: Left|
|September 16, 1964 for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 1, 1977 for the Oakland Athletics|
|Runs batted in||419|
Willie Murphy Crawford (September 7, 1946 in Los Angeles, California – August 27, 2004 in Los Angeles, California) was a Major League Baseball outfielder who played with Los Angeles Dodgers (1964–1975), St. Louis Cardinals (1976), Houston Astros (1977) and Oakland Athletics (1977). Crawford was born in Los Angeles, California. He batted and threw left-handed. He was the father of former UCLA football DB Willie Crawford who graduated from Beverly Hills H.S. in 1988.
Crawford was a great all-around athlete at Fremont H.S. in Los Angeles. He was All-City in both football (1963) and baseball. With 9.7 speed in 100 yards, he was a highly recruited running back by colleges to play football. But long-time Dodger Tommy Lasorda, who was then a scout, signed Crawford for the Dodgers for $100,000.00 two days after he graduated from high school in 1964. Because of the Bonus Rule in existence at the time, Crawford had to play for the Dodgers' major league team in both 1964 and 1965.
As a major league baseball player, defensively, he played in a shallow manner, so as to cut down on potential Texas leaguers. Crawford's strong arm was able to cut down ambitious baserunners. Also, he was able to get a good jump on the ball and used his full speed to track down deep fly balls.
Offensively, he was a line drive hitter, a consistent basepath threat, and an opportune hitter in the clutch.
Crawford debuted on September 16, 1964, at the age of 17. As a rookie, he batted .312 (5-for-16) with three runs, one double, and stole a base. He had a pinch-hit single in Game 1 of the 1965 World Series, when the Dodgers defeated the Minnesota Twins.
On April 7, 1970, Reds pitcher Gary Nolan defeated the Dodgers, 4–0, on a 2-hitter. Both hits were batted by Crawford, in the 4th and 9th innings.http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/C/Crawford_Willie.stm.
Crawford played for the Dodgers through the end of the 1975 season, compiling a .268 average, with 74 home runs and 335 RBIs in a total of 989 games. He was traded to St. Louis in March 1976. He hit .304 in 120 games for the Cardinals with nine home runs and 50 RBIs. He was traded again after the 1976 season. The Cardinals sent Crawford to the San Francisco Giants. He never played for the Giants, being traded to Houston in before the 1977 season began. He played 42 games for the Astros and 59 games for Oakland Athletics that season, his last in the major leagues.
During his 12-year career, Crawford appeared in 1,210 games and had a .268 batting average with 86 home runs and 419 RBI. His career numbers included 507 runs, 152 doubles, 35 triples, 47 stolen bases, and 431 walks for a .329 on base percentage.
At age 57, Willie Crawford died at his home in Los Angeles, apparently of kidney disease.http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/02/sports/baseball/02crawford.html?ex=1181448000&en=f0b0b65e0996c80b&ei=5070 He was buried in the Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.