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Crow-Armstrong continues baseball connection

Mets' first-round Draft pick has family ties to 'Little Big League'
Pete Crow-Armstrong starred at Harvard-Westlake High School in Southern California before getting drafted by the Mets. (Tracy Proffitt/MiLB.com)
@AndrewAtBatt
July 6, 2020

In a way, Pete Crow-Armstrong is following the same path as his mother. Yes, they are in very different careers: he's a newly minted professional baseball player with the Mets and his mom, Ashley Crow, is an accomplished actress. But Crow spent 14 years in New York and earned a

In a way, Pete Crow-Armstrong is following the same path as his mother.

Yes, they are in very different careers: he's a newly minted professional baseball player with the Mets and his mom, Ashley Crow, is an accomplished actress.

But Crow spent 14 years in New York and earned a master of fine arts degree at NYU, embarking on a career that's seen her appear on both the silver screen and television. Her most memorable role, at least among baseball circles, is in the 1994 movie "Little Big League" as Jenny Heywood, the mother of 12-year-old Billy Heywood, who owns and eventually manages the Twins.

Even after all these years playing baseball and as he begins his own professional career that'll likely bring him to New York, the No. 19 overall pick in June's Draft has never even thought of his mom the typical "baseball mom," even if life is now imitating art.

"She and my dad [actor Matthew John Armstrong] spent so many hours in the backyard with me when I was growing up, just letting me go crazy diving around and hitting balls as far as I possibly could," Crow-Armstrong said. "And she probably spent just as much or more time with me than some of my coaches did growing up playing baseball and sports."

The two have watched the movie together in the past, but Crow-Armstrong said it hasn't been for a while. And while he does enjoy the movie, it does add a layer one might not consider right off the bat; watching a show or movie that includes your parents might be a little awkward.

"It's weird watching your parents and, and shows on TV sometimes. It's interesting," Crow-Armstrong said with a laugh. "I remember I saw my dad get killed off in a show one time and I was like that's just weird. So no, we don't ever really sit down and watch stuff that they're in together, or we haven't in a while. But I think we all love that movie and I think we all think it's pretty cool. And it's a weird and funny connection."

There is obviously now that "funny connection," Crow-Armstrong and his mother have with baseball, and now, just like her he's on his own path to the same city she lived in for over a decade. But the 2020 first-round pick, who traveled the world as an amateur baseball player with USA Baseball, has never stepped foot in the city himself. But it hadn't occurred to him to ask his mom what'd it'd be like to live in the Big Apple.

"It's funny that I haven't been there and she spent so much time there, but no, all she ever said about New York was how much she loved it," Crow-Armstrong said. "I honestly haven't gotten to all that much advice about how to carry myself in the city, but I literally just, I've just heard so many great things about New York as a whole.

"When I heard my name called and I found out I was going to New York, I was absolutely ecstatic, baseball aside, I know that that's my kind of city -- Queens is incredibly diversified. They love their love their sports there and I've only heard great things. I have a ton of friends in New York and they go to NYU. And it feels like New York loves the Mets more than the Yankees, almost. And that's just I think the vibe that the fan base gives and that excited me more than anything"

And while Billy Heywood's role in Major League Baseball was purely fictional, Crow-Armstrong's credentials that will likely get him into a big league outfield within this decade are far from it.

He's been a star on the USA Baseball squad multiple times since he was on the 12-U team in 2014, including a gold medal at the U-18 Pan-American Championship in 2018 and a run at the 2019 U-18 Baseball World Cup. At the latter, he put his plus bat-to-ball skills on display by hitting .364 with seven extra-base hits over the tournament, where he was named the best top center fielder. In 2019, he also shined in the 2019 Under Armour All-America Game with a walk, stolen base and run scored as the leadoff hitter for the National team.

Pete Crow-Armstrong gets a 60 grade for his defense on the 20-80 scale from MLB Pipeline. USA Baseball

"This is a kid that's played against the best competition for years," Mets vice president of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous told MiLB.com last month. He's been on the best team, he's been selected on the best teams -- Team USA -- everywhere he's gone. It gives you a lot of assurances that this kid has played against the best competition and risen above the best competition."

And at Harvard-Westlake High School, which has produced pitchers Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito and Max Fried, he batted .426 as a junior and was hitting over .500 before his senior season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although he just turned 18 in March, baseball has taken him around the globe and kept him playing nearly non-stop.

That's why the recent shutdown has felt even weirder for players like Crow-Armstrong, who've dedicated most of their free time to the amateur baseball circuit. The longest he's ever taken off from game action before this year was just over a month. Obviously, things have changed. But the time off has given him time to reflect a little bit.

"Like a lot of the guys, especially like recently with the summer circuits and stuff like that, guys are playing year-round for two years straight," Crow-Armstrong said. "Like I had, you know, the 2017-18 season and then the 2018-19 season. I didn't take a break until after I got back from from Panama after winning gold with that team. You get so used to being on the field consistently every single day and you love it so much.

"Right now, it's really just embracing how hard you're going to work and what work you're doing and then just being patient, knowing that you're going to get on the field sometime, hopefully soon."

He's been working out at Sports Academy in Manhattan Beach, California, following social distancing guidelines while getting swings against Michael Lorenzen, Bryan Shaw, fifth-ranked Brewers prospect Aaron Ashby and Indians prospect Eli Morgan. More recently, he's been training in altitude in Aspen, Colorado.

It's not the same as competing at the USA Baseball National High School Invitational like he did last year, but Crow-Armstrong said he's tried to make most of the time he had on the diamond in 2020.

"Nobody knew that we were going to get cut short. The advice [I got] was all you have to do this year is focus on enjoying this last spring season with some of your best friends. So it's like the best advice I got was just enjoy this last time," Crow-Armstrong said. "You don't have to worry about hitting more home runs than you did last year. I would just play your game and it's all going to play out. And so it just so happened to be that that advice was the most relevant and important advice I could have gotten."

Looking ahead, Crow-Armstrong is itching to play his first game as a professional. In an ideal world, he'd likely be in Florida in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but the new normal and the cancellation of the Minor League season has kept that from happening.

When he does make his pro debut, he could be playing alongside outfielder Isaiah Greene, the Mets' second-round pick out of Corona High School. That's about 60 miles southeast of Harvard-Westlake. While the two haven't had a lot of interactions, Crow-Armstrong said Greene was a force on the scout team that played against USA Baseball and "kicked our butts" in the fall. Both profile as outfielders who combine good contact ability with speed and defense, which Crow-Armstrong said should provide healthy competition and make both better.

"He's a really good player I Iove to watch," Crow-Armstrong said. "It's really cool that Southern California was represented really well in this Draft kind of overall this year. I thought that was really fun to see, and the fact that I'm going to be playing beside a kid that grew up 45 minutes away from me for the next few years is really exciting. And the fact that it's Isaiah and the fact that he's an outfielder who I get to compete with every day and work with every day, it's going to be really fun.

"Obviously, you have your individual goal of getting up to the big leagues for yourself, but if we can both look at it like we're competing to get up there together and we're just competing to push each other every day to make each other better rather than beat the other guy up to the big leagues, I think that can create something really special once we're both up there."

If and when Crow-Armstrong reaches the big leagues, he'll be on TV, the same medium in which his parents have flourished. When he gets to that point, he hopes his career has an added meaning.

"I want to get in there and I want to learn as much about the city," Crow-Armstrong said. "I want to immerse myself in its culture and I want it to be bigger than baseball. I want my career to be something that is impactful and reaches out to people. And I want to win at the same time."

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt.