Did you know that Gene Crumling put the ball into play during eleven of his twelve at bats and had only one hit in the majors, a single off future hall of fame slugger Jimmie Foxx? Read about that and more in this moving tribute to him written by his grandson:
They called him "Lefty"
There was a good man who left this world today, February 11, 2012. He was born in 1922, in a different world and in a different time. Gene Crumling was my grandfather. I loved and respected him in a way no one will ever know. He shaped the way that I view the world, his life experiences shared openly. While I didn’t always agree with everything he said, there was always a nugget of truth to it; his thoughts based in reality. He was an intelligent man, yet looked at life in a simple black and white way. To my grandfather life had no grey areas and no dull colors. The truth is the truth and is easily identifiable in his estimation.
It is never easy to see a loved-one leave us, no matter the space of time and distance in miles. To understand my grandfather requires an understanding of his life experience. Gene Crumling began playing minor league baseball as a catcher for the Hagerstown Owls at 19 years of age in 1941. While in Hagerstown, Maryland he met a feisty little woman from Brooklyn whom he made my grandmother in 1942. Having come from a family of seven boys and one girl, a product of German immigrants, he chose a small family of one son, my father, and the only child which “Lil” could have.
His early life was guided by a desire to get to the big leagues and his absolute love of baseball. While he spent most of his 14 year baseball career in the minor leagues or as a manager, he did make it to “the bigs.” To borrow from another writer:
Wrightsville's Gene Crumling only had a cup of coffee in the major leagues, but fans from all over still remember the former catcher. Gene Crumling played six games for the 1945 St. Louis Cardinals, a team that came close to winning the National League pennant. Crumling's games were in September, during the pennant race.
Crumling had only one hit in the majors, but he probably deserved better since he put the ball in play during 11 of his 12 at-bats. The one hit he did get was notable, because it came off of Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx, pitching well during his last season in the majors.
Gene talked about baseball, his experiences in the game, the people he met over the years and what the game had become. It amazed me how many times a week he would get requests for his autograph in the mailbox. Gene would tell anyone who listened at how disgusted he was with what the game has become. He could often be heard telling of how when he played, they got more in meal money than they were paid in salary. “The problem with baseball today is money. These players today make so much money yet they refuse to give an autograph to a little kid without getting paid for it.”
He hated what became of baseball, saying that they play for the wrong reasons now, and are too greedy, and don’t love the game as much as “we did.” He also felt that the players today get records they don’t deserve as there is much “less talent” today; it has been watered-down. Pap felt that it is easier to get into the big leagues now than it used to be. He loved the game and even after his shot, continued playing. He played for teams from D to AA; the Hagerstown Owls, Allentown Wings, Columbus Red Birds, Elmira Pioneers, Rochester Red Wings, Sunbury A’s, York White Roses, Wellsville Rockets… and the St. Louis Cardinals. At 23 years old, and for a brief time in 1945, Gene Crumling was the catcher for the Cardinals.
It always amazed me that I could find my grandfather in a book. But the writers of the books didn’t know the man like my sister and I did. He loved us both, and taught us the value of family. After my parents divorced and my grandmother passed, he lamented to me, in tears, “why has our family fallen apart?” In reality it didn’t. The strong familial feelings I have are derived from his example. My concern for the future is his. His gregarious nature has been inherited as was his temper… and his face. My father and I both resemble him, more so the older we get.
I can’t write all of the things my grandfather taught me; it would take a book. To some he was Gene Crumling, to some “Lefty,” yet to me he was Pappy. My Pap died today, and the world is all the worse for it… and I am devastated…
Copyright © 2012, Baseball Almanac, For Baseball Almanac by Mike Crumling.
You can follow the team links in the chart above to locate common statistics (singles),
advanced statistics (WHIP Ratio & Isolated Power), and unique
statistics (plate appearances & times on bases) not found
on any other website.
If you find this type of "free" data useful please consider
making a donation to Baseball Almanac :
a privately run / non-commercial site in need of financial assistance.