Fond of throwing the inside fastball, Owens was a minor league strikeout and walk
leader who discovered control while in the military during 1957 and 1958. He had
his best season as a rookie in 1959, going 12-12 for the Phillies. Known as a reveler
as a young player, he slumped, was traded, and was demoted before straightening out
and becoming a top Houston reliever from 1964 through 1966. After arm trouble ended
his career, he served as the Astro's pitching coach from 1967 to 1972.
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»May 11, 1960: At San Francisco, Sam Jones hurls a 2-hitter and draws a bases loaded walk for the only run as the Giants edge the Phils, 1–0. Jim Owens is the loser.
»May 28, 1960:
At Forbes Field in the 8th inning, Roberto Clemente is on 3B and Hal Smith on 1B with two outs, when Bill Mazeroski fans on a ball that hits in the front of the plate. The ball then hits umpire Al Barlick on the right knee and bounces back toward Phillies pitcher, Jim Owens. Maz doesn't move as Smith jogs to 2B. Clemente races in from 3B then stops. Owens fields the ball and goes after Clemente ignoring pleas from the Phils' bench to simply throw to 1B. In the run-down, Clemente knocks the ball out of Jim Coker's glove and scores the tying run on the catcher's error (the photo has been widely published). The Pirates win, 4–2 in the 13th on Don Hoak's 2-run home run.
»June 29, 1961: With three round-trippers at Philadelphia—one a 10th-inning shot to win 8–7—Willie Mays becomes the 4th ML player with three or more home runs twice in one season. Manager Gene Mauch's efforts to conceal his starting pitcher and force Al Dark's hand has a Phillie lineup including hurlers Don Ferrarese (batting leadoff, playing CF), Jim Owens (3rd, RF), Chris Short (7th, C), and Ken Lehman (9th, P) against San Francisco. When Dark sends a lefty to the mound, Mauch replaces Ferrarese. Dark then replaces Billy O'Dell with Sam Jones. Mauch replaces Lehman with Dallas Green after two batters. All the maneuvering takes three hours and 20 minutes. The Giants then take the nitecap, 4–1, as Mays triples and doubles home two runs and completes a DP with a throw home.
»April 21, 1963:
Cincinnati P Jim Owens sets a National League record as the first hurler in NL history charged with three balks in one inning (the 2nd) in a 7–0 loss at Los Angeles.
»May 4, 1963: The Braves Bob Shaw shatters the existing balk record when he is called for five in a 7–5 loss to the Cubs. Shaw is penalized three times in the 3rd inning alone, tying the major-league record set the previous week by Jim Owens.