19 July 2006

Fred Crowell saluted for a life in baseball

Fred Crowell was honored before the Harwich Mariners played the Chatham A's at Whitehouse Field Monday night, appropriate, since Crowell helped build the field.

Crowell was born in Harwich in 1923 and was a baseball star for Harwich High School, as was his father before him. Fred then signed a professional contract with the old Boston Braves prior to attending the University of Alabama.

He stayed at Alabama for a year, then enlisted in the Navy during World. War II and became a fighter pilot on the aircraft carriers USS Yorktown and USS Hornet. During training, he played on the Navy baseball team, which included Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and Johnny Sain.

Crowell has always kept an autographed picture of that team in his home and close to his heart, and a few years ago took a print of it to the Ted Williams Museum in Florida, where it is now showcased for visitors to see. (A copy is also on the wall of the Hot Stove Saloon on Main Street in Harwich Port.)

He married his high school sweetheart, Carolyn Grayson Crowell, during the war and upon returning home to Harwich, decided to raise a family rather than pursuing his baseball career. He also went to work with his father, Fred Crowell Sr., and his brother, Eph Crowell, in the family construction and crane business.

Crowell never lost his love for baseball and played many years for the old Harwich town team, where his sweet left-handed swing and power hitting were legendary.

He was a member of the Harwich Athletic Association for many years beyond his retirement from playing baseball. In the late 1960s, when Ben Whitehouse agreed to donate the funds for the lights for a new baseball field, Fred's construction business was awarded the contract and his family built the field.

Crowell's son Tim played for the Harwich Mariners while at Harwich High School and Tufts University from 1962 to 1968, and another son, Bill, played for the Mariners while attending Harwich High School and Cornell University from 1970 to 1974.

His son-in-law, Bob Warner, recently helped coach Harwich High School to the state championship this spring. Crowell even had a connection to the Mariners' opponents Monday night, as his niece Martha is married to Chatham manager John Schiffner.