Aug 5, 2013

The Only MLB Player To Be Born In Vietnam: Danny Graves (2005)

Daniel Peter Graves was born on August 7, 1973 in Saigon, South Vietnam. His father was a United States serviceman serving in the Vietnam War, and his mother was a native Vietnamese citizen. After getting married & having young Danny, they moved to South Florida by early 1975. Danny Graves is the only MLB player to ever be born in Vietnam.

He grew up in South Florida & became a star pitcher at the University of Miami. In his sophomore year he made 59 appearances & earned a save in the College World Series. In his junior year he set a school record with 21 saves while posting a 0.89 ERA. The right hander was drafted in the fourth round of the 1994 draft by the Cleveland Indians. He pitched in the college World Series that year, then tore his ACL missing all of 1995. He recouped & became the Indians top prospect, being bred as a closer right from the minor league level.

He had two brief seasons in Cleveland (1996 & 1997) appearing in just 15 games each season going 2-0. On July 31st 1997 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with Damian Jackson, Scott Winchester & Jim Crowell for John Smiley & Jeff Branson. It was in Cincinnati where he became a quality closer, finishing in the league’s top ten in saves five times (1994-2004).

In 1999 he had his first big year, making 75 appearances, with 27 saves (10th in the NL) going 8-7, as the Reds tied the New York Mets for the NL Wild Card. Graves made the 2000 All Star team going 10-5 on the year, with 2.56 ERA posting 30 saves (5th in the NL). He would save 32 games in each of the next two seasons as well, going 7-3 with 68 appearances & a 3.19 ERA in 2002.

Over the 2000 & 2001 seasons he only had six at bats, but made the most of them. He had two hits in those at bats, but both were HRs, including a two run shot in the 2001 season. In 2003 the Reds attempted to make him a starter but he was terrible, going 4-15 (the second most losses in the N.L) allowing 100 earned runs & 204 hits while posting a 5.33 ERA in 169 innings pitched.

In 2004 he returned to the bullpen and saved a career high 41 games, going 1-6 with a 3.95 ERA, making another All Star team. In 2005 he struggled and the Reds fans let him have it. He was frequently booed and during a game in late May he gave the crowd an obscene hand gesture as he was being removed from the game. That ended his career in Cincinatti, he was released later that week. In June he was given a shot by the New York Mets.

The Mets were hoping he had something left in the tank and a that a change of scenery would help. Graves debuted on June 14th in an inter league game at Oaklnad pitching one inning of scoreless relief. The next day he was shelled for three runs on four hits in a 9-6 Mets loss.

He never pitched more than two innings out of the Mets pen in any single game and had four terrible outings along the way. The A’s, Pittsburgh Pirates & Philadelphia Phillies all pounded him for at least two runs in his twenty appearances. Graves was credited with a hold on August 4th in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium.

In late August he had a terrible day when The Washington Nationals scored five runs off him (only one earned) in a 9-8 loss, where Roberto Hernandez took the losing decision. Graves was sent to AAA Buffalo where he went 0-2 before rejoining the Mets staff in September as the rosters expanded. He finished the year with a 5.25 ERA, pitching in twenty games, with 12 strike outs & 8 walks in 20.1 innings of work for the Mets. He played briefly in Cleveland in 2006 (13 games going 2-1) but didn’t make it back to the big leagues after that.

In an eleven year career, Graves had 182 saves going 43-44 with 429 strike outs, 271 walks & a 4.05 ERA in 518 appearances.

Retirement: In 2007 he was a meber of the Independant League Long Island Ducks where he led the league in saves.

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