James Philip Owens
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 190 lb.
- High School Bradford Area High School
- Debut April 19, 1955
- Final Game June 20, 1967
- Born January 16, 1934 in Gifford, PA USA
- Died September 8, 2020 in Houston, TX USA
Jim "Bear" Owens was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1951 and he played in the minors until 1955 - the year of his major league debut. His first game came on April 19th at the age of 21, but he only pitched three times that season. His first two years in the majors were fairly poor - his record was 0 and 6 with an ERA of 7.51.
He missed the 1957 season due to military service, then in 1958, he appeared in one game, pitching seven strong innings for the win. His ERA in that game was 2.57. He was in the military during most of this time.
His best season was 1959. Complementing a solid ERA of 3.21, Owens went 12 and 12 with 11 complete games and 135 strikeouts in 221 1/3 innings of work. He was apparently a one-year wonder as well: in 1960, he went 4 and 14 and in 1961 his record was 5 and 10. After his poor 1962 season, when he had a 2 and 4 record, and a 6.33 ERA, the Phillies traded him to the Cincinnati Reds for Cookie Rojas.
He was used almost entirely as a reliever in his one year with the Reds, 1963. On April 21st of that year, he set a National League record by balking three times in one inning. Bob Shaw broke that record less than one month later when he balked five times in one inning. Overall, Owens posted an ERA of 5.31 in 19 games that year, three of them started. In December of that year, the Houston Colt .45s took him in the 1963 Rule V Draft.
He spent the final four seasons of his career with Houston. He was used almost entirely as a reliever for them, pitching in a total of 148 games with them and starting only 11 (all in 1964). He even led the team in relief appearances in 1965 with 50, the first season they were known as the "Astros".
Overall, his record was 42 and 68 with a 4.31 ERA. Of the 286 games he appeared in, he started 103, completing 21 of the starts and tossing one shutout. In 885 1/3 innings, he gave up 84 home runs, walked 340 batters and struck out 516. He was a poor hitter throughout his career. In 218 at-bats, he collected only 22 hits for a .101 batting average. He struck out 102 times.
He had a .954 fielding percentage. According to Baseball-Reference similarity scores, he is most related statistically to Boom-Boom Beck. According to The Baseball Cube, he spent nine major league seasons as a teammate of Turk Farrell - longer than any other teammate.
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1959)