Monday, May 09, 2011

#453 Dodgers Rookie Stars: Willie Crawford and John Werhas

#453 Dodgers Rookies: Willie Crawford and John Werhas
The two-for-one rookie cards that feature one guy who made it in the big leagues and another who never gained a foothold are a bit cosmically cruel. I guess it serves as a reminder that prospecting is a crap shoot.

Fun facts about Willie Crawford:

-Willie was a Los Angeles native who signed with the Dodgers out of high school in 1964. The scout who signed him was none other than Tommy Lasorda, and Crawford signed for a $100,000 bonus.

-Due to bonus baby rules, he debuted with L.A. in 1964, a week after his 18th birthday. In limited action, he hit .313 (5-for-16).

-After four years of very little playing time, Crawford saw action in 61 games in 1968. He batted .251 with a .335 on-base percentage, 12 doubles, 4 home runs, and 14 RBI.

-On May 16, 1969, he batted in the bottom of the ninth inning against Pittsburgh's Ron Kline. With one out, a runner on first, and the Dodgers trailing 3-2, Willie hit a game-winning home run.

-In 1973, he set a career high by playing in 145 games. It also proved to be his most productive year, as he achieved personal bests with 75 runs scored, 26 doubles, 14 home runs, 66 RBI, a .295 average, .396 OBP, and .453 SLG.

-Willie repeated his .295 batting average in 1974, and produced similar power numbers: 23 doubles, 11 homers, 61 RBI.

-He went 2-for-6 in the 1974 World Series, including a ninth-inning home run off of Rollie Fingers in Game 3. His blast narrowed Oakland's lead to 3-2, but the Dodgers could get no closer.

-After spending parts of a dozen seasons in Los Angeles, Crawford was dealt to the Cardinals for the 1976 season. He responded with a .304 average, 9 home runs, and 50 RBI in 120 games.

-He retired after splitting the 1977 campaign between Houston and Oakland. In parts of 14 seasons, he hit .268 with 86 home runs and 419 RBI.

-Willie was only 57 years old when he died of kidney disease in 2004.

Fun facts about John Werhas:

-John was born in Highland Park, MI but attended high school in San Pedro, CA. He went on to the University of Southern California, where he was an All-American third baseman, and signed with the Dodgers in 1960.

-Had a breakout season with AAA Spokane in 1963, hitting .295 with 17 home runs and 96 RBI.

-John earned the Dodgers' starting third base job in the spring of 1964, and singled off of Ernie Broglio in his first career at-bat on April 14.

-Unfortunately, the hits proved to be few and far between. He was demoted to Spokane in early June with a .193 average, no home runs, and 8 RBI in 29 games.

-Werhas had only a September cup of coffee with L.A. in 1965, going hitless with one walk in four plate appearances.

-Spent a fifth consecutive year at AAA in 1966, batting .306 with a .403 on-base percentage, 15 home runs, and 80 RBI at Spokane.

-Began the 1967 season in the big leagues, and was traded from the Dodgers to the Angels in early May for former college teammate Len Gabrielson.

-John batted a miserable .159 in 56 games that year, with a pair of home runs and 6 RBI. He was through as a major leaguer, with a cumulative .173 average and .276 on-base percentage in parts of three seasons.

-He continued playing in the minors through the 1973 season, spending most of his time at AAA Hawaii - not bad work if you can get it! He also spent the 1971 season in Japan with the Taiyo Whales, and was traded back to Hawaii for Clete Boyer. It was said to have been the first trade between an American team and a Japanese team.

-After retiring, John became a pastor, spending several years at Yorba Linda (CA) Friends Church.
#453 Dodgers Rookies: Willie Crawford and John Werhas (back)


  1. Just shows how hard it is to be successful in the majors. Also, Crawford getting 100 k in 1964--that was a lot of money then. He probably didn't make much more than $100,000 the rest of his career.

    1. Willie did it the right way,lots of workouts and dedication,no steriods just like julio Cruz did when he was playing ball in Brooklyn pure talent made it to big leagues wish I could of followed his footsteps.

  2. I'm fasinated by the background stadium on the Crawford card, I just don't of a stadium at the time that had that layout. Although it appears to be related to one seen in the 65 John Purdin rookie card. Any guesses?

  3. Marc - According to Baseball Reference, he made $130,000 in 1977. So I assume that he at least did better after free agency came about late in the game.

  4. I really like Crawford's smile on this one - holy cow! I'v got a post on dazzling dentistry that includes him and a couple of others:

    Check it out! Thanks