Ken Rowe, who played for the Baltimore Orioles in the 1960s and served as the team’s pitching coach in the 1980s, passed away Nov. 22 at the age of 78.
According to MLB.com, Rowe—who had a long and storied career in professional baseball—died in his hometown of Dallas, Ga. after suffering briefly from pneumonia.
Born Kenneth Darrell Rowe Dec. 31, 1933, the Ferndale, Mich.-born relief pitcher twirled for the Orioles in 1964 and 1965 after spending many years in the Detroit Tigers and Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers minor league systems.
He joined the team in September 1964 after being purchased from Los Angeles, with whom he pitched briefly the previous year, going 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 14 relief appearances. He appeared in six games for the Orioles that season and went 1-0, despite posting an 8.31 ERA.
Returning to the Orioles for a cup of coffee in 1965, the right-hander was without a decision as he posted a 3.38 ERA in 13.1 innings of work. On May 4, his final big league appearance, the then-31-year-old struck out the final batter he faced—star outfielder Bob Allison.
He then remained in the Orioles minor league system for a few years, pitching until 1968.
In total, Rowe worked in 26 big league games, including 12 with the Orioles, over three seasons of work. He was 2-1 with a 3.57 ERA in 45.1 innings, with 19 strikeouts, nine games finished and one save.
His major league playing career was brief, but it was hardly the end of his trek through professional baseball—and, really, it wasn’t even close to the beginning of it.
In fact, Rowe first started his career as a farmhand in the Tigers system in 1953. The 19-year-old greenhorn was originally a starting pitcher and he had some success in that role as he worked his way through the minor leagues.
In 1954, he won 12 games and in 1955, he notched 11 victories. He pitched sparingly in 1956 and missed all of 1957 to military service, but he returned the following year and—now in the Dodgers system—embarked on a stretch of four straight years of ten or more victories, with a peak of 15 in 1959.
He was most stellar after he converted to relief pitching, however, as he was 10-4 with a 1.70 ERA in 38 appearances in 1963 for the Triple-A Spokane Indians. The next year, he had the best campaign of his career, going 16-11 with a 1.77 ERA in 88 games pitched.
The hurler spent 15 seasons in the minor leagues, posting a 132-110 record with a 3.63 ERA.
Following his playing days, Rowe was a minor league manager and coach in the Orioles system, working his way up to the big league club in the mid-1980s.
Succeeding Ray Miller as pitching coach in 1985, he worked under managers Joe Altobelli and Earl Weaver, tutoring such names as Mike Flanagan, Mike Boddicker and Scott McGregor. He was replaced by Mark Wiley in 1987.
He later worked in the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians systems, spending many years with the latter organization.
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