Nov 4, 2013

Italian / American Father & Son Pitchers: Jason & Steve Grilli

Jason Michael Grilli was born on November 11th, 1976 at Royal Oak Michigan. The tall six foot five left hander went to high school in Baldwinsville, New York located in Upstate New York. He was drafted by the AL New York club but chose to go to school instead.

He then attended Seton Hall University in South Orange New Jersey. By 1997 he was the first round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants (the fourth pick overall).

By 1999 he was traded to the Florida Marlins organization in exchange for Livan Hernandez & Nate Bump. Jason Grilli would wear the uniform number 49 in honor of his father.

He has been a long time journeyman middle reliever who has pitched for six different teams. Grilli has been with the Florida Marlins (2000-2001) Chicago White Sox (2004) Detroit Tigers (2005-2008) Colorado Rockies (2008-2009) Texas Rangers (2009) & Pittsburgh Pirates (2011-2013).

He arrived with the Tigers in 2005 & made his debut exactly thirty years after his dad had made his debut with the team.  In 2006 he made it to the World Series with the Tigers appearing in five post season games, pitching three scoreless innings.

In 2008 Jason earned his first career save & the Grilli's made history. They became the first American father & son duo to earn saves. It had been done before by Latino pitchers Julio & Jamie Navarro as well as Pedro Borbon Sr. & Jr.

In 2011 he was the set up man for Joe Hanrahan, getting credit for 32 holds. After Hanrahan was traded to the Boston Red Sox Grilli took over as the Pirates closer.

The Pirates went on to have one of their best seasons in two decades, winning 94 games & making it to the post season. Grilli would go on to save 33 games (7th most in the NL) post a 2.70 ERA & Strike out 74 batters in 50 innings pitched over 54 appearances.

He began the year saving 13 games before taking a loss, then saved another 12 into mid June before blowing another opportunity. He had notched 30 saves by late July but then missed over a month of action before returning for the September pennant race.

In his ten year career Jason Grilli is 21-25 with five saves & a 74 games finished with a 4.34 ERA in 330 appearances. After each game where he makes an appearance the Grilli's still talk on the phone or in person.

Post Season: In the NL Wild Card Game he closed out the 9th inning of the 6-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds. In the NLDS Grilli made three appearances, earning a save in Game #3, in a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Grilli has pitched for Team Italy at the 2006 & 2009 World Baseball Classics. He has also spent a lot of time in Italy & has dual citizenship between the two countries. He has learned to speak the Italian language very well.

Grilli also runs a videophone company called perfect pitch, that also deals with social media marketing. In the off season he his wife & their child live in Orlando Florida.

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Stephen Joseph Grilli was born on May 2nd 1949 in Brooklyn, New York. He attended high school in Memphis Tennessee & then Gannon University at Erie PA. The six foot two right hander was signed by the Detroit Tigers as an amateur free agent in 1970.

He would spend the majority of his career in the minor leagues making brief appearances in the majors in four seasons.

In 1972 he went 11-3 at AA Montgomery where he earned a promotion to the AAA Toledo Mud Hens. In 1975 he got a September callup to the Tigers making his debut on September 19th, 1975 finishing up a loss to the eventual AL Champion Boston Red Sox.

In 1976 he went 3-1 with three saves in 33 appearances, having his best year in the Detroit days where Mark the Bird Fidrych was all the rage. In 1977 he made 30 appearances going 1-2 with a 4.83 ERA. He would eventually get his contract purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays where he pitched one game in 1979.

He was back in the minor leagues where he became a popular figure while pitching with the Syracuse Chiefs 1978-1981. He would put on a show during the 7th inning stretch playing the "air banjo" to the delight of the fans.

On June 23rd 1981, while pitching for the AAA Rochester Red Wings, he was the losing pitcher in the longest professional game ever played. It was  between Rochester & the Pawtucket Red Sox. In the 33rd inning Grilli faced three batters giving up a run, not retiring anyone, allowing the PawSox to take the win.

In his four season  MLB career he is 4-3 with three saves & a 4.51 ERA in 70 appearances. Grilli had control issues as he walked 96 batters while striking out 91.

Retirement: After his playing days he opened a bar in Syracuse, NY called Change of Pace.

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