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Marv Grissom
Born (1918-03-31)March 31, 1918
Los Molinos, California
Died September 18, 2005(2005-09-18) (aged 87)
Red Bluff, California

Marvin Edward Grissom (March 31, 1918 – September 18, 2005) was an American professional baseball pitcher and pitching coach. During his active career he appeared in 356 in Major League Baseball for the New York and San Francisco Giants (1946 and 1953–58), Detroit Tigers (1949), Chicago White Sox (1952), Boston Red Sox (1953) and St. Louis Cardinals (1959).[1] Born in Los Molinos, California, he threw and batted right-handed, stood 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) tall and weighed 190 pounds (86 kg).[2] His elder brother, Lee, was a left-handed pitcher for four MLB teams between 1934 and 1941.[3]

Early playing career[edit | edit source]

Grissom's pro career began in 1941 in the Giants' organization, but he missed four seasons (1942–45) serving in the United States Navy during World War II.[4] When he resumed his career in 1946, he was called up from Triple-A in September. As a rookie, Grissom made three starts in four games, dropped each of his two decisions, then spent all of 1947–48 back in the minor leagues. The Tigers selected him in the 1948 Rule 5 draft, and he spent all of 1949 on the Detroit roster, working in 27 games (all but two as a relief pitcher), and posting a poor 2–4 record and 6.41 earned run average. Two more years at Triple-A followed; during the second, 1951, Grissom won 20 games for the Seattle Rainiers. Then, during the 1951–52 offseason, he was acquired by the White Sox.

In 1952, at age 34, Grissom finally established himself as a Major League pitcher, going 12–10 (3.74) in 28 games (24 as a starter) and 166 innings pitched, with seven complete games and one shutout. The following February, he was one of three ChiSox hurlers swapped to the pitching-poor Red Sox for veteran shortstop Vern Stephens. But after a promising start to his 1953 campaign, Grissom's Red Sox career unraveled when he allowed 12 hits and 12 earned runs in only 2⅓ innings over two outings against the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on June 24–25. His ERA ballooned from 3.05 to 4.78, and after only one more appearance, Grissom was placed on waivers. He was claimed by the Giants on July 1. He got into 21 games for them, with seven starts and three complete games. He also began to pitch out of the bullpen for manager Leo Durocher, although he recorded no saves that year.

Stalwart relief pitcher[edit | edit source]

But in 1954, Grissom found his niche as one of Durocher's ace relief pitchers — Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm was the other — as he helped the Giants win the National League pennant. He led the club in saves (17, third in the league) and won ten other games, nine in relief. Grissom was named to the National League All-Star team and finished 24th in voting for NL MVP Award.[5] In 122⅓ innings pitched, he had 64 strikeouts and a 2.35 earned run average.[1] Then, in the 1954 World Series against the Indians, Grissom was the winning pitcher in Game 1, the contest marked by Willie Mays' classic, over-the-shoulder catch of Vic Wertz' long drive to center field. Grissom came into the game in relief of Don Liddle in the eighth inning, immediately after Mays' catch, with the game tied, 2–2. He proceeded to pitch 223 innings of one-hit ball, and held Cleveland off the scoreboard until pinch hitter Dusty Rhodes won the game with a three-run, walk-off home run in the tenth inning.[6] It was Grissom's only appearance in the Series, as the Giants swept Cleveland in four straight games.[7]

Grissom also shone as a relief pitcher for the next four seasons, leading the Giants in saves three more times (1955; 1957–58). He was a member of the last Giants' team to represent New York City, and the first one based in San Francisco. Traded to the Cardinals in October 1958, he was able to appear in only three games for the 1959 Redbirds before a back injury forced his retirement as an active player. In ten MLB seasons, Grissom had a 47–45 record, 356 games (52 started), 12 complete games, three shutouts, 58 saves, and a career 3.41 ERA. He allowed 771 his and 343 bases on balls in 810 total innings pitched, with 459 strikeouts.[1]

Pitching coach[edit | edit source]

After his playing career, Grissom had a 15-year-long tenure as a pitching coach for four MLB teams: the Los Angeles/California Angels (during three separate terms: 1961–66; 1969; 1977–78), White Sox (1967–68), Minnesota Twins (1970–71) and Chicago Cubs (1975–76).[8]

Grissom died at his Red Bluff, California, at the age of 87.[9]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Preceded by

Franchise created
Bob Lemon
Billy Muffett
Los Angeles/California Angels pitching coach
Succeeded by

Bob Lemon
Larry Sherry
Preceded by
Ray Berres
Chicago White Sox pitching coach
Succeeded by
Ray Berres
Preceded by
Art Fowler
Minnesota Twins pitching coach
Succeeded by
Al Worthington
Preceded by
Hank Aguirre
Chicago Cubs pitching coach
Succeeded by
Barney Schultz

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