Tuesday, January 19, 1999
lure to Crims
The ex-UH and majorBy Al Chase
league pitcher now fishes
Instead of a "Sold" sign in front of his Phoenix-area home, Chuck Crim could easily have put up a "Gone Fishing" sign a little over three years ago.
Anyone who knows the former Hawaii Rainbow right-hander wouldn't be surprised at his decision to walk away from major league baseball at age 34 and embark on a second career -- to fish professionally.
What might surprise people is how a born and raised Southern California athlete who married an attractive Southern California girl and made a few million dollars playing big league ball could pack his family off to Reeds Springs, Mo., population around 400.
"Can you believe that," Crim said. "Deanne and I go over that scenario all the time and can't believe it.
"But, as soon as I made the decision to not play baseball anymore, we were in Missouri within two months. I figured I had to live on a real good lake if I was going to better my fishing. And I felt it was a lot better place to raise our children (sons Cody, age 12, and Jacob, 14 months). We live on Table Rock Lake and haven't regretted the move at all."
Crim got his first rod and reel when he was 3 years old. He's fished longer than he played baseball. Casting in hopes of landing a big one was a prime off-season pursuit during his 13-year professional baseball career, eight in the major leagues.
Although he just won a Bass Masters Classic, he compares his fishing career with being back in the minor leagues.
"It's on schedule, but it takes time," Crim said. "I fish two big circuits, the Central Pro Am (8 tournaments) and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) Masters (4 tournaments) and team tournaments. With the lakes in this area, you can enter a tournament just about every week.
"During the summer you can fish three tournaments a week. It keeps me busy, but now I have a home base to come back to. When there's a tournament, I jump in my truck and hook up my boat and I'm gone.
"Some day you're going to see me on TNN (The Nashville Network which televises fishing shows)."
Crim pitched five years in Milwaukee, mostly as a middle reliever and set-up man, leading the American League in appearances in 1988 and 1989. He was on track to do it again in 1990, when he pulled a rib-cage muscle trying to catch a fly ball during warmups.
Following the 1991 season, the Brewers traded him to the then California Angels. The injury bug struck in 1993. Crim was released after 11 games and spent the rest of the season rehabilitating his right shoulder.
"I lost my strength and it hurt real bad," he said. "I never thought it would happen to me. I'd never had arm problems. They couldn't find anything wrong with an MRI. It was just a case of real bad tendinitis."
Signed as a free agent by the Chicago Cubs in 1994, Crim had one of his most enjoyable seasons and it turned out to be his last.
"I loved Chicago, playing in Wrigley Field every day. The fans love you," he said.
However, a combination of two factors brought his big league career to an end. The Cubs changed their management team and had no plans to re-sign any of the bullpen members. Then there was the baseball strike.
The free agent market disappeared over the winter and he decided not to go to Homestead, Fla., where a free agent tryout camp was held once the strike was settled.
Instead, it was off to Missouri and a new career.
"The toughest thing was telling my parents that I wasn't going back to play," Crim said. "My mom had just retired and now they were going to be able to watch me play. It was highly disappointing for them.
"My son didn't want me to go play any more," added Crim. "I figured it was just time for me to be at home and let him enjoy what I enjoyed.
"I loved playing, no one can take that away from me. Playing in the big leagues is a lot of hard work. But I really enjoy my family. I've always dreamed of coaching my son's Little League team."