Talk about your folk heroes. Brother Lo was certainly one. Nothing short of a so-so player from Cleveland and Texas, John Lowenstein came to Baltimore where he became a different player.
Prior to the waiver deal with Texas in the Winter of 1978, he stole bases and hit with little power for Cleveland. After he reached Earl Weaver and company, he actually became a part-time slugger with a penchant for clutch hits.
The Orioles really knew what to do with this character. In 1979, he came to plate 197 times. The next season, it was 196 times. In both seasons he doubled eight times. He rarely saw left-handed pitching as he and Gary Roenicke and sometimes, Benny Ayala, took turns playing the outfield.
Of course he never got a sniff of the post-season before the Orioles picked him up and he didn’t pass up the opportunity to shine in the spotlight.
In his first post-season action of his career, he batted just once and it came in the 10th inning in a battle between California’s Nolan Ryan and Baltimore’s Jim Palmer. He ended the affair with a game-winning pinch-hit three-run homer. I think even Weaver mobbed him after this great blow.
Let’s go to that 79 World Series against the Pirates. That’s when Weaver sent up Lowenstein to pinch-hit for Roenicke in the 8th inning of game four in Pittsburgh. Lowenstein cracked a bases-loaded double chasing home both Kiko Garcia and Eddie Murray.
Lowenstein also cracked a homer in the 1983 World Series.
But 1982 was Brother Lo’s big year. That was the season that went down to the final game of the season against Milwaukee. He doubled his career homer run total with a whopping 24 that season. His career-high in intentional walks was 3 before this season and AL pitchers gave him a free pass 10 times that year. He hit a stunning .320. Yes, Lowenstein the former Indians player.
On Sunday, July 25, Oakland was in town for a day game. It was a matchup between 9-game winner Dennis Martinez for Baltimore and seven-game loser Brian Kingman for Oakland.
It was scoreless until the fourth inning when Lowenstein cracked a three-run homer. Lowenstein opened the seventh with another homer. Would he get a shot at a three-homer game? Not a chance, he was pinch-hit for the next inning by Roenicke.
Another unforgettable Lowenstein moment came in June of 1980. Oakland again is the foe and this time, the A’s lead 3-2 entering the seventh inning. And here comes Lowenstein to pinch-hit and again he delivers chasing home two runs to give the Birds the lead. And with an errant throw, Lowenstein dashed to second. Only the throw hits him right in the head. He’s out like a light.
This is not a good situation. Lowenstein was carried out on a stretcher. Oh, gosh. And with a sense of great timing, the outfielder bolted up in his stretcher and gives the crowd of 15,000 a double-fisted salute. Now that’s a ballplayer every team could appreciate.
Yes, it was a take off of a Lowenbrau beer commercial. “Tonight, tonight, let it be Lowenstein.’”
Just another ballplayer who came to Baltimore and got a glimpse of how good a player he could be with the help of a smart baseball team.