Former Canyon Baseball Coach Now Wears Dodger Blue
December, 2013 - Issue #110
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Just eight years ago, Chuck Crim was standing inside the dugout at Canyon High School's baseball field guiding teenagers, including his son Cody, who was then a senior on the Cowboys baseball team.

On October 7, he stood inside the Dodger bullpen at Dodger Stadium in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League Division Series next to the team's closer, Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers trailed the Atlanta Braves 3-2 and, with things looking somewhat bleak and Juan Uribe at the plate for Los Angeles, Crim, the Dodgers' first-year bullpen coach, turned to Jansen and told him, "He's going to hit a home run right here."

In a matter of a minute, the ball landed right there, a long way from Canyon High School, next to the Dodger bullpen in the seats beyond the left field fence. The home run and then one of Crim's men, Jansen, shutting the door in the ninth inning propelled the Dodgers to the National League Championship Series.

The Dodgers would eventually fall short of the World Series, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series in six games. But it was still a rewarding season in so many ways - especially for Crim, who lives in Canyon Country during the season and in Arizona in the offseason.

"It's a dream for me to be a part of this organization - the one I grew up imagining," Crim says. "You really can't dream things up like this. Every day I look out, pinch myself and realize where I'm at, what I'm doing, why I'm still here."

Crim took over as Canyon High head baseball coach in 2004 and spent two seasons leading the team. It wasn't his calling. It was more of stop in a baseball career that has seen some memorable moments.

He pitched eight Major League seasons and, early on in his career, which began in 1987 with the Milwaukee Brewers, he was one of the game's best set-up men.

Crim left Canyon in 2005 - the year his son graduated - to pursue a job in Major League Baseball.

He latched on with the Dodgers as an amateur scout and in 2009 he got back on the field as a minor league pitching coach. He rose to Double-A in 2011 and spent two seasons there with the Chattanooga Lookouts.

"The HOME RUN and then one of Crim's men, Jansen, shutting the door
in the ninth inning propelled the
Dodgers to the National League Championship Series."

In 2013, he received a promotion to the Major League club as bullpen coach.

Early in 2013, the Dodgers bullpen struggled. By July 5, the Dodgers had the 28th-ranked bullpen in baseball. The players in the bullpen attributed it to a number of factors, including many of the guys trying to get comfortable in a role. Crim admitted he was still finding his way, going from pitching coach and in the dugout back to the bullpen.

"I was still learning," he says. "Looking back I found that my gig is getting pitchers through games. I love bullpen work, I love competing with them and being with them pitch to pitch. But after the gates opened, it was tough for me. Sometimes I wanted to run out there and make a mound visit from the bullpen."

However, Crim and the pitchers in the bullpen started to all find their comfort level around the same time.

From July 5 to August 28, the Dodger bullpen had a Major League best 1.76 ERA. The Dodgers ended the season with the 14th ranked bullpen.

Some of the players said Crim made an impact on them.

"He communicates with us and shares info so we could all be on the same page," said Dodger rookie reliever Paco Rodriguez.

Rookie Chris Withrow pitched for Crim in Chattanooga, where he made the conversion from starting pitcher to relief pitcher. He was stellar for the Dodgers in 2013.

"I've been with Chuck since 2011. He was really helpful for me when I made the transition," Withrow says. "That's his thing. He's a bullpen guy. He was able to relate to me the mentality he had as a bullpen guy. It's very similar - attack guys, don't give in to anybody. The mental side was very beneficial."

Crim was born in Van Nuys and grew up a Dodger fan, so one can imagine what it's like to be where he is today. Sure, the Dodgers didn't reach their ultimate goal of winning the World Series, but for Crim, 2013 was an impactful year and, for him, one of personal accomplishment.

"I feel proud of the Dodgers organization and I count my blessings every day I'm here," Crim says.
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