Jim Cowdrey passes

June 22, 2024

Jim Cowdrey passes


Sad news from James Jones:

RIP Jimmy Cowdrey
I learned this morning that a former teammate with the Canadian National Men’s Fastball team and Saskatoon Rempel Brothers hurler and good friend of mine Jim “Guido” Cowdrey passed away in the Toronto area.
The “Guids” was a character. Another one of the good guys that made the game fun. He had a 10 to 15 year run where he was as good a pitcher than Canada had ever produced. A big solid man, with dark, dark features, hairy, and forearms and biceps developed from millions of drop balls over the years.
In Caracas, Venezuela in 1983 he pitched Canada to the gold medal win over the United States. In 1984 at the World Championships in Midland, Michigan he was again a big part of Canada’s Silver medal, losing to New Zealand 3-1 in the final game.
His drop ball was as good as they come, a half speed change up and a mindset that he could get anyone out. He often did.
I remember Terry Baytor brought the Agincourt Rawlings to Saskatoon to play our All-O-Matic’s team early in my career. Terry and Bob Sawatzky were assistant coaches to Dave Pearce on the national team that year and it was the first time that I would face Cowdrey with Bob Shelston behind the plate.
Guids tried to sift a rise ball by me, and I hit it off the center field wall. I rounded second and headed for third and slid in safe and Cowdrey was standing staring at me between the dugout and 3b as he covered the ball coming back in. He said to Bob Sawatzky, who was our coach on 3rd base, “who the hell is that.” Bob said,” Jimmy Jones.” Guids looked at me, with sweat dripping like a waterfall off the brim of his hat, a big grin on his face, a five o’clock shadow at 10 in the morning and a slow determined gorilla like walk back to the pitching circle.
He took the signal for the next pitch from Shelly, his catcher who shouted out to him,” if you don’t like it, don’t throw it there.” Guids stepped back off the mound mouthed,” F you Bobby,” and turned and looked at me again shaking his head.
That at bat became a friendship that lasted through my ten years chasing a softball all over Canada, the United States, Venezuela, and New Zealand.
Cowdrey came to Saskatoon to pitch for Rempel Brothers, and we were teammates. He spoke to Kevin Waugh of CFQC, now an MP representing Saskatoon East and said, “Jody Henniger would never hit .300 off of him.” In fact, Jody hit .419 off him that year, Rempel won the first game of the year 8-7 but then lost fifteen straight through league, tournament play and provincials.
Cowdrey batted fourth for us, led the team in home runs and batting average and he and Don Bates pitched all our 62 games played. He was a work horse and always took the ball. When we won the 1987 Canadian Championships in Calgary we had Robbie Scheller, Jim Cowdrey and Donnie Bates throwing for us. That was a stable of arms that most could not even come close to. They were that good.
We often in the early spring would have a Saturday morning practice so that the team could work out for a couple of hours, take BP, get some pitches in, and then have the rest of the day for family. We would always start the practice off with a brisk run led by Donnie Capon, around Diefenbaker Park, or the Hilltop Football Field in Saskatoon, then end it with once around the park after you batted. Fitness was key in the spring, and we worked hard at it.
Guids would show up late and say he had already run his 3 miles. Wayne Wallace was the pitching coach, and he would shake his head and say, “I better see you running after you bat.”
We would all start laughing when he would come out to shag balls in the outfield as we had heard the conversation with Wayne, and he would have that big “Mexican’ grin on his face and the messy part of an egg McMuffin running down the front of his shirt.
We circled up as coaches under Tommy Doucette with the Jr. National Team and roomed together in Whitehorse, Yukon for the 2008 and 2014 World Jr. Men’s Championships. Guids was our pitching coach and my son Cory was the fifth pitcher on the 2008 staff and an infield captain at first base. Cory loved him and whether it was because Cowdrey knew me and that Cory as my son, I don’t know, but they developed a bond and were seen talking about hitting, pitching and life often.
It was hot in Whitehorse, and we slept in the College dorms. He was always a night hawk staying up later than anyone else, enjoying a cigarette, talking to whoever would listen and taking it all in. Could that man snore! When he got that big hairy body out of a sleeping bag in the morning, I told him it sounded like a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation.
He would get up a least twice a night, stand on the balcony or in the motel room door, light up a cigarette, pour himself a glass of white milk and say, “Jonesy, are you awake” “Jonesy”. Yes Guid’s,” what’s up.” Just wanted to know if you were awake.”
“Jonesy, you are always way too serious.” You have to enjoy the game. “Yes Guids, close the fridge door and make sure that cigarette smoke gets blown outside. We don’t want that smoke detector going off again. “F you Jonesy. I would roll over smile and think what a guy!
We have lost contact over the years but there were times I would get a call from him when I lived in Leduc, Alberta and he would say, I am on a private investigation job in Lethbridge, why don’t you slip down here for a visit. I would say Jimmy, that is 6 hours away. He would say, “Really” C'mon get down here. Then he would laugh.
Cory sent me a note this morning from Jimmy's niece. They were cleaning out his house and he had very little memorabilia in his place, but there was a picture that Cory had sent him on his dresser of him and Jimmy, he had kept it all those years with very little else that would make you believe that he was as good as they came.
I sat back in my chair in Swift Current and if I listen really close, I can still hear Dwayne Heidt cheering him on from first base. “C'mon you big man, C'mon you big and hairy, C'mon you Big Ugly Mexican.” Guids loved it. He would grin and laugh at the end of the inning as he walked to the dugout.
Jay Sim caught him a lot and when Guids didn’t like how Jay was calling the game and would not put the signal down fast enough, he would drop a one finger or two finger gesture on his right quadricep. Jay would walk out the mound and say, if I can see that do you not think the batter can? Guids would say, just put it down, they won’t touch it. And often they didn’t.
There are people that come and go and people that leave a smile on your face. Guids always left a smile on my face.
I miss you already buddy. God speed to one of the good guys.
1988 Canadian National Team:
We will post the obituary if we receive one. Please send the link to fastball@pmihrm.com if you see one posted.
Good friend Dave Hoffman reported that the family held a private service for Jimmy on 28 June 2024.
Also on our Facebook News Group page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/2431357717
   With some very interesting comments about Jimmy and his contribution to fastball.

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