Crews Is Eulogized as a Winner in Life : Funeral: About 500 attend service in Florida. Widow tells son that his father is 'in heaven playing baseball.'

From Associated Press

Cleveland Indian pitcher Tim Crews, killed in a boating accident last Monday, was eulogized at St. Luke's United Methodist Church on Saturday.

Jay Howell, a close friend and former teammate, stepped to the pulpit flanked by nine other ballplayers.

"We all know what Tim's accomplishments on the field were," Howell said, frequently stopping to compose himself. "That's part of the baseball record.

"But his quality of his life and his love, dedication and commitment to his family and friends were of Cy Young status. That's how we will remember you."

Later, red-eyed players carried Crews' black and silver casket up a gentle hillside to a grave chosen because it overlooks a pond, symbolizing the pitcher's love for water.

Crews, 31, and reliever Steve Olin, 27, were killed when their 18-foot bass boat hit a pier in Little Lake Nellie, near the Indians' training camp in Winter Haven. Crews, who grew up in Tampa, Fla., owned a home on the lake and was driving the boat.

Olin will be buried today in Portland, Ore.

Pitcher Bob Ojeda, the third Cleveland player in the boat, showed up several hours before the funeral and sat alone with the casket for about 30 minutes.

Ojeda suffered head injuries and was released from a hospital Thursday. He wore a blue bandanna over bandages on his head, and dark glasses.

About two dozen major league players and coaches sat in the front rows during the funeral, many of them dabbing tears from behind dark glasses.

Said the Rev. James Harnish, who married Tim and Laurie Crews at the church in 1981: "Something in us wants to pound some umpire's chest and say it shouldn't be this way."

A contingent of Indian players passed up their team's exhibition in Bradenton against the Pittsburgh Pirates to attend the funeral. A group of Dodger players came from Vero Beach in team vans.

The congregation of about 500 broke up at the sight of ballplayers sobbing behind the casket while Howell eulogized. The crying players huddled when Howell finished, and Laurie Crews joined in to comfort them.

Crews finished the eulogy while former Dodger Kirk Gibson and Howell held two of the three Crews children. Dodger Orel Hershiser stood nearby offering comfort.

Crews told the congregation that the youngest child, 3-year-old Travis, has asked whether his father will come back.

"I tell him no, because he's in heaven playing baseball," she said.

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