PRODcast 116′s Old School Player of the Week: Al Cowens
Scouting Grades: 70 DADHAT, 70 AFRO, 60 DADLAP, 70 DADGLASSES
Born in Compton, Al Cowens could pass for Humpty Hump from Digital Underground in a baseball uniform. He looks confused as hell in most photos which is probably due in large part to this …
Cowens was drafted in the 75th round of the 1969 MLB draft, but managed to play 13 seasons in the bigs with the Royals, Angels, Tigers and Mariners as a right fielder. He peaked with the Royals in 1977 at age 25, posting an .885 OPS, w/ 23 HR & 112 RBI, a bWAR of 5.3, a second place finish in the AL MVP voting and a Gold Glove. He never sniffed that kind of production again and died of a heart attack at age 50. Baseball is weird … and so is life … and so was Al.
A notable feud started between Cowens and Texas Rangers reliever Ed Farmer early in the 1979 season. In the May 8 game at Arlington Stadium, a Farmer pitch thrown in the top of the 5th inning fractured Cowens’ jaw and broke several teeth; Cowens would miss 21 games. Farmer also hit Cowens’ teammate Frank White in the same game and broke his wrist and caused him to miss 33 contests. The following year, in a game between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park on June 20‚ 1980‚ Cowens (now a Detroit Tiger) hit an infield grounder against Farmer (pitching for the White Sox). While Farmer watched his infielder make the play, Cowens ran to mound and tackled the pitcher from behind, instead of running to first base; getting in several punches before the benches cleared and the two were separated. Cowens was suspended for 7 games and a warrant was issued for his arrest in Illinois‚ forcing him to skip the remainder of the series. Later Farmer agreed to drop the charges in exchange for a handshake‚ and the 2 players brought out the lineup cards before the game on September 1. However, future appearances for Cowens in Chicago were greeted with a “Coward Cowens” banner.