Friday, January 15, 2010

We lose a link to Iowa sports history

Don Crawford with another Cascade native, Gary Dolphin, "Voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes," July 4, 2007.

I received a sad bit of news today, when Paul Crawford reported the passing of his Dad, Don Crawford. He was 95. I met Don in mid-2007, after he contacted me about my Red Faber biography. I visited him in his apartment in Des Moines.

Unfortunately, my book was already out; otherwise, Don could have helped round out my project. That's because Don had the distinction of likely being the last living person to have batted against Faber. It was in a 1933 exhibition in Dubuque, just a week or two after what turned out to be Faber's last major league game. Don was 18 at the time; Faber was 45.

Don, who grew up in Cascade, might be the only person to have ever batted against both Faber and another Hall of Famer with Iowa roots, Bob Feller. That contest occurred in an amateur tournament a few years later, when Feller was still a teen but soon to enter the majors.

On Independence Day 2007, when the Tri-County Historical Society unveiled its newly remodeled museum wing dedicated to Faber, officials asked Don to snip the ribbon. He was thrilled.

On the occasion of our visit in Des Moines, I wrote a blog post that ended: One of the great pleasures of writing the Faber biography is getting the opportunity to become acquainted with people I otherwise would never had occasion to meet. Don Crawford, a real gentleman, certainly is at the top of the list.

Some 2½ years later, I still feel that way. Peace, Don.