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Chuck Crim: Dreams fulfilled

Former Canyon coach and MLB pitcher gets his shot at coaching in the Majors

Posted: October 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Chuck Crim is a former MLB relief pitcher and Canyon High baseball head coach. Chuck Crim is a former MLB relief pitcher and Canyon High baseball head coach.
Chuck Crim is a former MLB relief pitcher and Canyon High baseball head coach.
One of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching coaches, Chuck Crim, right, walks next to bullpen coach Ken Howell on Sunday in Los Angeles. One of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching coaches, Chuck Crim, right, walks next to bullpen coach Ken Howell on Sunday in Los Angeles.
One of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitching coaches, Chuck Crim, right, walks next to bullpen coach Ken Howell on Sunday in Los Angeles.

In the summer of 2005, Chuck Crim moved to Arizona from Canyon Country.

After two years of being the Canyon High Cowboys head baseball coach, the former Major League relief pitcher decided to chase his dream and go where opportunity was.

Crim, after teaching teenagers about the game of baseball, wanted to guide professionals.

Fast forward seven years and you can find Crim in the Dodgers’ bullpen at Dodger Stadium.

In September, Major League rosters expand and minor leaguers receive callups across the big leagues.

But so do minor league coaches.

For the last two seasons, Crim — a pitching coach for the Dodgers’ Double-A partner, the Chattanooga Lookouts — has also received a callup.

“I take a lot of pride in being with the Dodgers,” Crim says. “I love the system. I love what I do. It’s a dream for me and I never take it for granted.”

The 51-year-old was always a down-to-earth, regular guy who lived for the day and always looked at being in baseball, no matter where it was, as a privilege.

The Van Nuys native played eight big league seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, California Angeles and Chicago Cubs.

In 1988 and 1989, he was one of the American League’s top setup men.

After retiring in 1994, he became a professional fisherman and lived in Missouri.

But he didn’t think Missouri was the right place for his son Cody to pursue his own baseball dreams.

So the family moved to the Santa Clarita Valley, where Crim’s in-laws lived.

“I left 30 acres and a beautiful home in Missouri and got lucky,” he says.


From the big leagues, to professional fishing, to 30 acres to high school.

It reveals something about Crim’s appreciation for the game.

Canyon head varsity coach Adam Schulhofer offered Crim the JV head coaching job in 2003.

And Schulhofer resigned after the 2003 season and recommended Crim for the job, to which Crim says he was also lucky.

He coached his son and Canyon to a 23-26 record in two years.

“My favorite part of the day was from 1 o’clock on,” Crim says of his time in Canyon Country. “I put my heart and soul into the kids and the program.”

Yet after the 2005 season, Crim decided to pursue a second career in professional baseball.

He moved to Arizona, where nearly half of Major League Baseball’s teams train for Spring Training and where top prospects go to play in the fall.

Crim would be around professional baseball people.

He wanted to be a pitching coach, but a friend of his who was an amateur scout recommended that he pursue scouting as a route to becoming a pitching coach.

Crim was introduced to Dodger Assistant General Manager Logan White.

“As soon as (my friend) says ‘Los Angeles Dodgers,’ my whole body flushed,” Crim remembers. “I was thinking, ‘This is the team I grew up loving. I’ve bled Dodger blue ever since I was out of the womb.’”

The Dodgers eventually hired Crim as a scout and he spent three years scouting in Southern California.

After three years, he asked if he could coach one of the Dodgers’ Rookie League teams, and in 2009 he received that opportunity for the Ogden Raptors.

The next year, he rose to the Low-A Great Lakes Loons.

The last two years, he has coached the pitching staff for the Lookouts.

Crim says his philosophy isn’t so much to stress mechanics as much as it is to teach pitchers about readiness, competitiveness and the mental approach to the game and its situations.

“The way he talks about pitching is definitely Major League,” says Dodger relief pitcher Josh Wall. “He wasn’t just trying to get guys to get outs in Double-A. He was trying to get guys to be dominant in the big leagues. I remember him telling me, ‘It’s not about trying to be dominant here in Double-A. I want you to be dominant in the big leagues.’
He taught you what he thought would make you that, and he wanted you to start doing that now.”

Wall first met Crim in 2010.

A second-round pick in 2005’s First-Year Player Draft, Wall had all the makings of a future Major Leaguer — big frame at 6-foot-6, a live arm, and athleticism.

But 2010 was his fifth professional season and he wasn’t progressing like he and others hoped.

“It was a time for me that was probably an all-time low in my career,” Wall says of 2010. “I’d been in the Cal League (High-A) for two years and just struggled, and I was going back at the end of Spring Training (in 2010) to Low-A and didn’t really know Chuck at all.

“I spent the whole season with Chuck and it really became a turnaround season for me.” Wall adds. “He really helped me a lot, mostly just talking about pitching. He tries to get you in the right position from the mental side.”

Wall says Crim is one of the people responsible for teaching him a slider he relies upon today.

Wall received his first big-league callup this season and is now in his third stint with the Dodgers, having been added to the team around the same time as Crim.

Crim compares his second career to that of his first — proving himself in the minors and hoping to one day get a chance in the Majors.

There’s nothing like it, he says.

He recalls receiving the invite last September to join the big league club for the stretch run.

“I thought I was going to be intimidated, in awe of it and here I spent eight years in it and five years in the minor leagues,” Crim says. “The first time I went down there and sat in the bullpen, it’s like I never left it.”

The Dodgers have three more games in the regular season.

Where Crim will be after 2012 is anybody’s guess, but he says it’s something he doesn’t worry about.

But judging by the last couple of years, opportunity has come Crim’s way.

And no matter where it has been, he’s taken advantage of it.

Yet the highest level is the goal.

“I appreciate every minute of it,” he says of coaching in the big leagues. “You’re fulfilling any man’s dream to be there in a big league uniform, especially a Dodger uniform and to be part of the Major League atmosphere.”



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