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Crews Also Dies of Injuries : Aftermath: Pitcher was driving boat that rammed into Florida dock, killing Olin and injuring Ojeda. Beer and vodka found aboard.

March 24, 1993|MARYANN HUDSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

At about 6 a.m., Lasorda said he got the call that Crews had died. When he called Laurie a few hours later, she asked him to please talk to her oldest son, Shawn, who is 5.

"I tried to tell Shawn that God had taken his father and that his mother, sister and brother were very sad about it," Lasorda said. "I told him that he had to be strong and help his mother when he saw her cry and that he had to be kind to his sister and brother. It was difficult, but I talked to him like he was 14, not 5, and I think he understood."

As word spread among the Cleveland players, they began seeking one another, most of them meeting about 3 a.m. at the Holiday Inn, where many of the players are staying. Shortly after dawn, Indian Manager Mike Hargrove and Hart met with the ballplayers at the clubhouse. It was a meeting filled with emotion. Some players spoke. Most were too stunned.

In addition to Olin's relief role, Crews was a strong candidate for a bullpen job and Ojeda was expected to be in the rotation.

The Indians canceled Tuesday's and today's exhibition games, but plan to practice today. Acting commissioner Bud Selig, of the Milwaukee Brewers, asked all teams to fly their flags at half-staff for two days and observe a moment of silence before each game.

A memorial service for players and families will be held in Winter Haven tonight. Andre Thornton, a former Cleveland player who is a minister, will conduct the service.

When Dodger reliever Roger McDowell heard about the accident, he drove to the hospital and spent all day Tuesday with Ojeda.

For Dodger players, coaches and club officials, the death of Crews hit hard.

"Tim was one of the most popular players we have ever had and the thing I'll always remember about him is that he enjoyed everything he did," said Fred Claire, the Dodgers' executive vice president. "Whether it was starting or relieving he never refused to take the ball. And he was always talking about fishing. I think that and his family were what Tim was all about. It's a tragedy."

In November, the Dodgers offered Crews to their triple-A club in Albuquerque, but Claire said the club was never trying to get Crews to go there. "He felt he could still pitch in the big leagues and we thought so too, " Claire said. "But we were going to change the structure of our bullpen and Tim anticipated it. He came to me during the last series of the season and said no matter what happened he really enjoyed being with the Dodgers."

Lasorda said Crews did whatever he asked him to do. "He did a terrific job for us as a set-up or middle man, but last year I had to take him out of his element when Jay Howell got hurt," Lasorda said.

"He was one of the most self-confident players I've known. His wife was pregnant during his first spring with us and he came to me and said, 'When she has the baby I'll only be away for a day.' It was as if he thought he was going to be the closer and the club couldn't afford to have him away more than a day.

"The saddest part is that both Tim and Steve have three young children that have to come to grips with it," Lasorda said. "I met Steve Olin a few months ago at a banquet in Portland, and he introduced me to his wife and said he really felt that he had come into his own last year and was looking forward to this season."

News of the players' deaths had quickly spread to all baseball camps.

In Tempe, Ariz., Angel starter John Farrell, who spent eight years in the Indians' organization, said he still was in shock Tuesday morning. He had spent an afternoon with Olin before spring training, remembering Olin's excitement about the new custom home that they were supposed to move into next month.

"It's hard to believe that I'm talking to him one day," Farrell said, "and the next day he's gone. I'm still in shock. He seemed like he had everything going for him. His career was starting to blossom. And now this."

Angel reliever Chuck Crim talked about the days he fished with Crews, even persuading Crews to buy the boat that was used in the accident. "We were fishing fanatics when we played together," Crim said of Crews. "My God, I was the one who told him to get that Skeeter bass boat. Now, he's dead. That's tough to deal with."

Crews was invited to Indian camp as a nonroster player. Last season with the Dodgers, he was 0-3 with a 5.19 earned-run average in 49 games. Olin came up in the Indian organization in 1989 and became the stopper last season with 29 saves, an 8-5 record and a 2.34 ERA.

Ojeda joined the Indians after a 6-9 record and 3.63 ERA.

Crews is survived by his wife and children, Tricia, 9, Shawn, 5, and Travis, 2. Olin is survived by his wife, Patti, and children, Alexa, 3, and twins Garrett and Kaylee, 6 months.

Times staff writers Ross Newhan, Bob Nightengale and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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