Muscle Sport Magazine

Warren Cromartie Jumps To Japan in Prime of His Career – OTI Baseball 1983


Many Major League Baseball Players have signed to ply their trade in Japan, but the vast majority of them have done so in the twilight of their careers. Such was not the case with Warren Cromartie, who signed a three-year, $2.5 million contract with the Yomiuri Giants of the Pacific League on this day in baseball in 1983.

The Nippon Pro Baseball League is a revered one globally, but not even close to MLB. So it came as a shock when the former member of the Montreal Expos jumped after not only being an everyday player, but quite an effective one, at that, batting .278 that season.

“Cro” made his MLB debut with the Expos in 1974 as a late season call-up from Double A. By 1977, both he, Ellis Valentine and Andre Dawson were starting in the outfield, making up one of the best and youngest in the game. He was switched to first base three seasons later and remained a formidable hitter in an improving line-up. The Expos finally qualified for the playoffs in the strike-shortened 1981 campaign and the Expos had their hearts broken in a five-game National League Championship Series loss to the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

His final two years in Montreal had their share of bumps in the road, with position changes and injures. But he still was swinging the bat well when his contract ran out. He was only 30 years of age and tested the waters for interest outside of MLB. He received a bountiful offer from the Yomiuri Giants and in turn became the first American player to sign in Japan while still in the prime of his career.

He did fair well there and won the 1989 Central League MVP with a .378 batting average with 15 home runs and 78 RBI.

Cromartie played seven seasons for the Giants and then returned to MLB for a one-year swan song with the Kansas City Royals.

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