Monday, March 25, 2013

#508 Art Fowler

Three Dodgers in a row? I hadn't planned it but what are you going to do? Anyway Art Fowler is one of the more interesting guys to appear in the '59 set. He was playing in the textile leagues in his native South Carolina when he was scouted and signed by the Giants in 1944.

His numbers were all over the board in five seasons of traveling up and down the Giants' minor league ladder and then he spent a season with the independent Atlanta Crackers before finding himself as property of the Braves. Four more seasons in the minors earned him a trade to Cincinnati and finally, in 1954, at the age of 31, Art Fowler made the big leagues. It's not known of anyone referred to him as a 'old' 31 but with the number of innings he had managed to throw in his years of baseball to that point it wouldn't be surprising if they did.

From '54 through '56 Fowler won double digit games for the Reds while serving as a starter (primarily) and a reliever  In 1957 he was in the bullpen and struggled to the point the Reds farmed him out for the '58 season and traded him to the Dodgers that June. He was in the minors the whole year.

He went 3-4 for the Dodgers out of the bullpen in 1959. He also spent more time in the minors and was not with the team for the World Series. Back to the minors in 1960, Fowler had to welcome his purchase by the crosstown Angels early in 1961. He spent three seasons in their bullpen and a fourth, 1964, as their pitching coach and part time pitcher. Fowler's SABR page includes this little nugget that says a lot about the gritty vet:

 Bill Rigney, the Angels’ manager, respected Fowler’s pitching skills: “With Fowler’s control, I saved him for the tight spots. I once brought him in with nobody out, the bases loaded, and three balls and no strikes on the batter in the ninth inning. When he got to the mound, he told me, ‘You’re a little late, aren’t you?’ But he got us out of it.” Rigney also remembered Fowler’s off-field antics: “Ryne Duren…ran with Art Fowler and Dan Osinski, that was a trio. One time we’re in Boston at the old Kenmore [Hotel] and there’s a fire at 5 o’clock in the morning and I get dressed and get down to the lobby and there are the three of ‘em all dressed up, smiling at me. ‘I bet you’re trying to figure out,’ Fowler said, ‘if we just came down or just came in.’”
In 1965 Fowler found himself back in the minors as property of the Twins and he pitched and coached through 1970(!) mostly under manager Billy Martin.

The Art Fowler/Billy Martin connection became a drama that played out for many years in the newspapers and broadcast media. Fowler followed Martin through five franchises, some multiple times. He was hired/fired/hired and fired again with the Yankees in particular. He obit in the New York Times and this MLB Blogs entry chronicle some of the circus that surrounded that pair.

Here is an interesting tidbit... Art Fowler's older (by 24 years!) brother, Jesse pitched in the majors in 1924. Art debuted in 1954 making them the major league brothers with the longest time between debuts.

And finally, from Wikipedia, a Fowler quote that sums up his pitching and personal philosophies:
"If running is so important, Jesse Owens would be a twenty-game winner. And, the only reason I don't like to run is that it makes me tired." -- Art Fowler, 1957

1 comment:

  1. The way Fowler looked when he was Martin's pitching coach, I'm not surprised about his quote about running at all.

    Keep the Dodgers coming!