|Former Williston star,
Oriole Sam Bowens dies in WIlmington
By Mike Voorheis
Sam Bowens, a former outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Senators, died last Friday at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. He was 64.
Bowens played with the Orioles from 1963 to 1967 and the Senators in 1968 and ’69.
He was a talented athlete and earned letters in four sports at Williston High School.
“He was born like that, I would say,” Sam Bowens Sr. said of his son’s athletic ability. “We would be in the yard, playing catch, and I’d have to tell him to cool down a little. He was throwing too hard.”
His best season in the major leagues was his rookie year of 1964, when he batted .263 with 22 home runs and 71 RBIs. For his career, he batted .223 with 45 home runs and 143 RBIs.
After his strong rookie season, Bowens’ career was soon derailed by his addiction to alcohol and, he said last September, a beaning to the head in 1965.
“It affected my hitting,” Bowens said. “I’d pull my head out up there. I wouldn’t stay with the inside pitches. I would bail out and drop my hands.”
Bowens, who has three surviving children in Indianapolis, Ind., returned to Wilmington in the 1980s, his father said.
After a few years of anonymity, Bowens was discovered by a group of people who have a soft spot for former ballplayers.
Jim Smith, who owns a baseball card shop in Wilmington, said Bowens was discovered by a Wilmington police officer responding to a nuisance 911 call.
After talking to Bowens for a few minutes, Smith said, the officer spotted Bowens’ old baseball cards on a table.
Smith and the officer later organized a fund-raiser to buy Bowens a new walker.
Bowens’ health continually deteriorated, and he was using a wheelchair and staying at a Wrightsville Beach nursing home last year.
Visitation for Bowens will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the Adkins-Drain Southside Chapel. Funeral services weill be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mary Catholic Church.