Dec 16, 2016

Remembering Bobby Ojeda's Tragic Boating Accident (1993)

Steve Olin, Tim Crews & Bob Ojeda

March 22, 1993 was an off day from Spring Training, for three Cleveland Indians pitchers; Former Mets 1986 World Champion pitcher; Bobby Ojeda, Tim Crews & Steve Olin.


The three friends, took out an 18-foot open-air bass boat & went out fishing & gator hunting in the darkness of the evening on Lake Nellie in Clermont, Florida.

Tragedy struck, when the boat rammed into a private dock that jutted out some 250 feet into the still waters.

Two other Cleveland Indians personnel had arrived to meet the fishing party just as the horror took place. They heard Bob Ojeda saying they needed help. The two men jumped into the water and called out for someone to call 911.

27 year old pitcher; Steve Olin was killed instantly. 31 year old pitcher; Tim Crews was alive but was struggling to breathe suffering from massive head wounds.

Bobby Ojeda was in & out of shock, he was suffering from head lacerations but was coherent. The players were taken to a nearby hospital, where sadly Crews passed away the next morning.

Ojeda was operated on & survived the tragedy. He stated that he naturally slouches over, and that slouch saved his life in that boat, by a matter of inches.

Tim Crews had been the driver of the boat and was found to be legally drunk while operating the boat. He had signed a minor league contact with Cleveland that season and was fighting for a spot on the pitching staff. He had pitched six seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA &15 saves. Crews had gone 4-0 during the Dodgers 1988 World Championship season.

Ojeda in the Hospital
Ojeda & Crews had been teammate the previous two seasons with the Dodgers. 

Quotes: Bob Ojeda- "What happened was nothing more, nothing less, than a tragic accident, Tim Crews was the safest boatman I know, the safest, most cautious guy I know. We were going, and bam! I don't remember the bam part. Then I heard some lady hollering, `Are you guys OK?' And I told her, `No, we need help.' EMS got there in five minutes, and if they hadn't, I would have bled to death. They were tremendous."
 
Quotes: Bob Ojeda- “I certainly went through the why am I here? That’s a given. I left the country for a while.  I had a lot of money in my pocket and I wasn’t gonna come back.”

But Ojeda returned & got back to the mound on August 7th, 1993, pitching two innings of relief at Baltimore. A month later he got his first win of the season, fittingly in New York beating the AL New York team.

Steve Olin had just come off strong season, as the Indians closer. He had 29 saves (8th in the AL) going 8-5 with a 2.34 ERA. After four seasons he was 16-19 with 48 saves, posting a 3.10  lifetime ERA.

Steve Olin
During the 1993 season, the Indians wore a commemorative arm patch on their sleeve, it had Olin’s #31 with an arrow above it next to Crews’ #52 with a star above it. 

On the teams last Opening Day at Municipal Stadium, the Tribe honored their fallen teammates & their families in an emotional ceremony in front of a sell out crowd of 72,000. 

The Indians had a fine young team featuring  Sandy Alomar Jr., Kenny Lofton, Charles Nagy, Albert Belle & Carlos Baerga. Two years later they would go onto the World Series for the first time since 1954.

In September of 2016, Miami Marlins All Star pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident as well. It brought back many ad memories of the 1993 incident.

The Wives of Crews & Olin on Opening Day 1993

 

1 comment:

Anna Dietrich (Ojeda) said...

This was very tragic we miss Bobby here in California especially because he is my cousin. I can never say a bad thing about him all I can say is that he worked very had for what he has I remeber watching him pitch when he was very very young. Our family has always been very proud of him. Anna Dietrich (Ojeda)