George Crowe, a former Negro Leagues baseball player who spent nine seasons in the major leagues and was Jackie Robinson’s basketball teammate for one season in Los Angeles, has died. He was 89.
Crowe died Jan. 18 in Rancho Cordova, Calif., said his daughter, Adrienne. The cause was not given, but Crowe had been in an assisted living home since 2008 after a series of strokes.
Crowe, a left-handed batter and first baseman, played for the Boston and Milwaukee Braves, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals from 1952 to 1961. His best season in the majors was 1957, when he hit 31 home runs for the Reds. He was named to the National League All-Star team in 1958.
He hit the 11th pinch-hit home run of his career in 1960, which at the time set a major league record.
Before signing with the Braves in 1949, Crowe played for the New York Black Yankees and the New York Cubans, said Adrian Burgos, a University of Illinois history professor who has written extensively on the Negro Leagues. Crowe also played for the Harlem Renaissance, an independent black professional basketball team.
George Daniel Crowe was born March 22, 1921, in Whiteland, Ind. In 1939, he was the first Indiana high school basketball player to be named the state’s Mr. Basketball.
He served in the Army during World War II. In 1946, he played for the Los Angeles Red Devils, a professional basketball team that folded after one season. Robinson and another future major league baseball player, Irv Noren, also were on the team.
Crowe was 26 when Robinson reached the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. “We had hope once Jackie got in,” Crowe told the New York Times in 2005. “If I’m good enough, maybe I can make it someday, even though my age was advanced.”
In addition to his daughter Adrienne, who lives in Gold River, Calif., Crowe is survived by daughter Pamela Fortune of Palo Alto; brothers Ralph and Billy, both of Indianapolis; and two grandchildren.