R.I.P. to Jack Crimian, who pitched in parts of four seasons in the majors in the 1950s. He died on February 11 after a long illness at the age of 92. Crimian pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals (1951-52), Kansas City Athletics (1956) and Detroit Tigers (1957).
Crimian was born in Philadelphia, Pa. on February 17, 1926. He graduated from Olney High School and was signed by Phillies’ scout Jacko Collins, according to his obituary. He began his pro career with the Bradford Blue Wings of the Pony League (Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League) and won 14 games for them in 1944. He was promoted to the Wilmington Blue Rocks, where the 18-year-old was playing against much older competition. He still won 4 of his 6 starts and ended his debut professional season with a combined 18-16 record and 3.17 ERA.
As with so many men of his generation, Crimian had to put his professional dreams on hold to serve his country in World War II. He was a paratrooper in the Army and missed the entire 1945 season. His father died suddenly in 1946, and Crimian returned home to support his mother and younger brother. He went back to the Blue Rocks and won 13 games for them. The Blue Rocks finished 1st in the Interstate League, thanks to an excellent starting rotation that also included Fred Caliguiri, who died last year at the age of 100.
Crimian was drafted out of the Phillies’ organization by the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason and won 14 games for Omaha in 1947. He was promoted to Columbus in 1948 and spent parts of the next 4 seasons there, continuing his winning ways for the most part but gaining more work as a reliever than a starter.
The St. Louis Cardinals brought him to the majors in the summer of 1951. His first MLB appearance came on July 3 against the Reds. With two runners on base, he entered the game in the 6th inning, walked Dixie Howell and gave up a bases-clearing double to pinch-hitter Barney McCoskey. Crimian was roughed up in his first stint in the majors and was sent back to the minors with 17 earned runs allowed in 17 innings, but he did pick up his first MLB win with a 7-4 win over Philadelphia in game 1 of a doubleheader. He pitched 3-2/3 innings, with the only damage coming from a solo homer by Del Ennis.
Crimian returned to the majors in June 1952. He had four solid appearances and one where he gave up 6 runs in one-third of an inning to the New York Giants. That one bad outing blew up his ERA to 9.72, and he was sent to the minors again. He pitched well in Rochester and Toronto for the next few seasons, even winning the MVP Award in the International League in 1956, when he won 19 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Crimian signed with the Kansas City Athletics, and he spent all of 1956 in the majors as a swingman, starting 7 games and relieving in 47 others. He ended the year with a 4-8 record, 3 saves and a 5.51 ERA. He struck out 59 batters in 129 innings. That December, he was traded to Detroit in an 8-player deal that brought Virgil Trucks to Kansas City. He pitched in 4 games with the Tigers in 1957, giving up 8 runs in 5-2/3 innings.
In his MLB Career, Crimian had a 5-9 record and a 6.36 ERA, with 69 strikeouts in 160 innings. The long ball was his weakness, as he gave up 27 home runs. He pitched in the minor leagues until 1959, winning a total of 151 games over 14 seasons.
After retirement from baseball, Crimian lived in Wilmington, Del. and worked as an auto body and fender specialist. He also pitched 3 years for the Brooks Armor Car Team in the Delaware Semi-Pro League and was a perfect 29-0. He spent 34 years working at John’s Body Shop in Wilmington. Crimian was elected to the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.