Former Mid Sixties Mets Pitcher: Joe Grzenda (1967)
Joseph Charles Grzenda was born on June 8, 1937 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The tall six foot two right handed pitcher was signed out of high school in 1955 by the Detroit Tigers. He went 13-3 in the Georgia Florida League in 1956 getting quickly promoted to AA ball. In 1958 he was 16-8 in the Southern Association (AA ball) with Birmingham. He posted losing record the next two seasons but got a call up to the big leagues in 1961 for four brief games.
He was back in the minors for the next three seasons becoming a full time relief pitcher. He was signed by the Kansas City Angels after getting released by Detroit. He never won a game in Kansas City, going 0-4 in parts of the 1964 & 1966 seasons, appearing in 41 games in those years. On August 14, 1967 his contract was purchased by the New York Mets.
The Mets put him to work right away the next day, pitching three innings in relief in both ends of a double header loss at Philadelphia. Two days later he entered the second game of a double header in Pittsburgh with the Mets leading 5-4 in the 9th inning. With two men on he gave up an RBI ground out to Roberto Clemente that tied the game. He pitched into the 12th inning giving way to rookie Tom Seaver, who gave up the game winning hit to Manny Mota in the 13th inning.
Grzenda would appear in just 11 games for the ’67 Mets posting no record and a 2.16 ERA, striking out nine batters in 16 innings pitched. In November his contract was purchased by the Minnesota Twins. He returned to the majors in 1969 going 4-1 with three saves, for the A.L. Western Champion Twins. He made one appearance in the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles.
In 1970 he was traded to the Washington Senators for Brant Alyea. Over the next two seasons he found a home out of the Seantors bullpen. In 1970 he appeared in 49 games going 3-6 with six saves. He had a better year in 1971 going 5-2 with five saves, posting a 1.92 ERA in the teams last year in the nation’s capitol before moving to Texas. In November he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals ending his eight year career. Lifetime he was 14-13 with 14 saves posting a 4.00 ERA with 173 strike outs in 308 innings pitched in 219 appearances.