By Rodger M. Wood
While I shot photos of Detroit Tigers 2013 #1 (20th overall) draft pick, Jonathan Crawford, in the Norwich Dodd Stadium bullpen on June 17th, I couldn’t help but remember the Tigers’ old Yankee Killer of the late 1950s and early 1960s, RHP Frank Lary.
I asked the 21 year old if he had ever heard of Frank Lary, but of course, pitching forty years before he was born, I had to tell him who he was and added that unlike Lary, he would also miss out pitching in old Briggs Stadium, which brought many days of joy to my childhood.
Although Jonathan had not heard about the Tigers’ past, he could well be a large part of their future.
At Florida the past two seasons, the 6-2, 205 RHP pumped a 92-96 mph fastball and wicked curve past opposing batters. Pitching for a young Gators team in 2013 without much hitting early in the season, he went 0 – 4, but bounced back with a
3-2 record to close out the season with a 3-6 W-L record. The highlight of his season was pitching a 2-hit shutout against Ole Mississippi, who went on to do big things in the NCAA tournament.
Statistics are deceiving as Baseball America ranked Jonathan the 24th top prospect in the 2013 draft and he had a good 2012 collegiate season. In the opening round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, he limited Austin Peay to one run and four hits over 6 1/3 innings pitched and made the all tournament team.
Jonathan has lots of promise and while he reminded me of one of my old favorite, someday the reverse may be true. Looking at my old baseball cards of “Tatoes” Lary, I may well be reminded of an intense young Jonathan Crawford pumping his fastball in the bullpen that day in Norwich.