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Willie Crawford, 1946-2004
2004-08-27 21:04
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Everything happened fast, perhaps too fast, for Willie Crawford.

He made his major-league debut nine days after his 18th birthday, on September 16, 1964. A graduate of Fremont High School, Crawford had just signed a six-figure contract with the Dodgers. He had four singles and a double in 16 at-bats in his first cup of coffee. He made little progress for the next three years, though - it took him until 1968 to double his career hit total.

Crawford retired early too, just after turning 31. He left with a career on-base percentage of .349 and a career slugging percentage of .408. Might not seem like much now, but for his era, Crawford was an above-average hitter, though in 10 of his 14 seasons, he sat out at least 40 games.

His early debut in the big leagues has long fascinated me, but I never saw him play. He left the Dodgers in only my second year of following the team, before I became personally aware of him.

Friday, Crawford died in Los Angeles at the age of 57. Too soon.

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