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Tecumseh grad who played in big leagues dies at 63

Larry Owen played in parts of six seasons for Braves, Royals

Larry Owen, a Tecumseh High School graduate who played six seasons in Major League Baseball and was inducted into the Springfield/Clark County Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002, died June 6 at the age of 63 in Westerville.

Owen, a catcher who was an 17th-round pick in 1977, debuted with the Atlanta Braves in 1981. He played parts of four seasons with the Braves, became a free agent in 1986 and signed with the Kansas City Royals in 1987. He had his longest stint in the big leagues in 1987, appearing in 76 games and hitting five home runs.

One of his biggest moments in baseball came on July 11, 1987, when hit a two-run home run with Bo Jackson on base in the eighth inning to provide the only runs in a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto. On that same day, Jackson had announced he would play pro football after the season with the Raiders.

In his career, Owen appeared in 171 games. He was a career .193 hitter with eight home runs. He ranked second in the American League in 1987 when he threw out of 42.9 percent of the runners who tried to steal against him.

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Until Kenton Ridge graduate Adam Eaton debuted with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012, Owen was the last position player from Clark County to play in the big leagues.

Owen played college baseball at Bowling Green. He hit 28 home runs in his career, setting what was then the Mid-American Conference career record. The mark of 27 was previously owned by Ohio University’s Mike Schmidt, a future Baseball Hall of Famer.

“I didn’t realize I was that close to his record,” Owen said in 1977. “I couldn’t believe it. I was really proud to know I’ve tied a record of a great baseball player.”

Owen hit .289 as a senior at Bowling Green and was named a second-team All-American.

According to his obituary, Owen “loved spending time with his family and especially being a grandpa. He enjoyed relaxing at Apple Valley and golfing in his spare time. Larry was Vice President of Franklin International for 30 plus years.”

Owen is survived by his wife of 40 years, Chris, daughters Jenny (Nick) Bertagna and Emily (Aaron) Fox and grandchildren Dominic and Anthony.

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