Marv Grissom: 1954 World Champion New York Giants Relief Pitcher (1946/ 1953-1958)

Marvin Edward Grissom was born March 31, 1918 in Los Molinas, California. 

MLB Relatives: Marv's older brother Lee Grissom was a left-handed pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds (1934-1939) AL New York team (1940) Brooklyn Dodgers (1940-1941) & Philadelphia Phillies (1941) going 29-48 lifetime with seven saves & a 3.89 career ERA. 

Marv's nephew Jim Davis was a left-handed pitcher as well, pitching for the Chicago Cubs (1954-1956) St. Louis Cardinals (1957) & New York Giants (1957) as a teammate of Marv's. He was 24-26 lifetime with 8 saves & a 4.01 ERA.

Marv began to find placed to pitch on weekends because his high school had no baseball team. 

Military Service: In 1941, Grissom went off to World War II serving in the US Army for four years of service. In the Army he pitched against a team managed by the New York Giants star Johnny Mize. Mize was impressed by Grissom's wicked curve ball. When Mize returned home, he recommended Grissom to the Giants. Marv didn't find out about Mize's recommendation until five years later. 

In 1945, the Giants signed Grisson & he began pitching with the AAA Jersey City Giants going 4-10 the next year.


MLB Career: That season he got a brief call up for four games going 0-2 before going back to the minors. He would go to the Pacific Coast League, then get drafted (Rule V) by the Detroit Tigers. 

He would not appear in the majors again for three more years, when he was already thirty-one years old. In 1949 he pitched 27 games for the Tigers, going 2-4 as a reliever. He spent the next two years at AAA Toledo & Seattle while getting traded to the Chicago White Sox. 

In 1952 Marv pitched as a starter for the White Sox going 12-10 with a 3.78 ERA in 24 starts. He was then traded to Boston along with Hal Brown & Bill Kennedy in exchange for Vern Stephens. In July 1953 he was put on waivers getting picked up by the New York Giants. 

NY Giants Career: Grissom came to New York with a 3-6 record & went 3-2 the rest of the way. That winter the Giants toured Japan, the team only had six pitchers, but Grissom was always willing to pitch. He later said that those innings built up his arm to have a strong 1954 campaign.

1954 Giants Championship Season:  Grissom worked mainly out of the bullpen, making three spot stars as well that season. He & Hoyt Wilhelm were a strong combo in Leo Durocher's bullpen.

Quotes- Leo Durocher "Show me another relief pitcher as good as either of them, let alone a pair anywhere in the majors. When the Giants won the pennant, they won it in the bullpen."

Marv saved the first game of the season against the rival Brooklyn Dodgers, in relief of Sal Maglie. He would finish off seven games & collect five saves against the Dodgers that season holding them to a .200 batting average.

Grissom kept his ERA below two until late July. That June he was credited with six victories (6-1) with four saves & just one loss. In 11 games he allowed just four earned runs in 29.2 innings pitched. 

1954 All Star: Grissom made the All-Star team & pitched 2.1 innings in the AL's 11-9 win at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. In the 6th inning, he came on with the bases loaded & two outs, he got Ray Boone to fly out to end the inning. In the 7th inning he struck out Ted Williams & Nellie Fox.

In the second half of the season, he went 3-5 with nine saves & three blown saves but the Giants won the NL Pennant five games, holding onto first place all of the second half. It was their 17th NL Pennant. 

Grissom was one of the league's best relievers in a time when it was not a glorious role. He finished the 1954 regular season 10-7 with 19 saves (3rd best in the league) & a 2.35 ERA. He appeared in 56 games (5th most in the NL) pitching 122 innings, striking out 54 batters & walking 50. He finished off 36 games (4th most in the NL).

1954 World Series: The Giants entered the 1954 World Series underdogs to the mighty Cleveland Indians. But the Giants swept the series to earn their fifth Championship. Grisson appeared in one game, finishing off the Game#1 win at the Polo Grounds.

The Catch:
In the top of the 8th inning, with the score tied 2-2, Grissom had a front row seat for Willie Mays famous catch as he was warming up in the bullpen a few feet away from where Mays made the grab in deep center field. Sal Maglie started the
inning but put two men on, Don Liddle came in & had Vic Wertz hit the 400 something foot blast that Mays made the incredible catch on. 

Willie's catch saved at least two runs. Giants Manager Leo Durocher quickly, summoned Grissom from the bull pen, to relieve Liddle. The story now goes, that as Grissom arrived on the mound, Liddle gave him the ball & said “I got my man”.

Grissom later said while pitching in the Polo Grounds in those years, he always felt safe with
Willie Mays out in center field. 

With two on & one out, Grissom struck out Dave Pope & got Jim Hegan to fly out to end the inning. In the top of the 10th, the slugger Vic Wertz, doubled to center without Mays making another amazing catch. He was sacrificed over to third. After an intentional walk, Grissom struck out Bill Glynn & got Bob Lemon on a line drive out to end the inning.

Grissom pitched 2.2 innings allowing no runs on one hit, striking out two & walking three. He earned the win when Dusty Rhodes hit a three-run pinch hit walk off HR i the bottom of the inning.


After the Championship: Over the next four years he remained being one of the top relievers in the league. In the 1956 & 1957 seasons he finished second & third in the NL in saves & games finished. From 1954-1958 he made over 50 appearances each season.

In 1958, the Giants last year at the Polo Grounds, Grissom saved 14 games (second most in the league) going 4-4 with 55 appearances (4th most in the league) posting a 2.61 ERA for the sixth-place team. 

When the Giants moved out west, he was happy to return closer to his home in Red Bluff, California. In San Francisco he saved ten games (4th in the league) going 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA.

In October 1958 he was traded along with Ernie Broglio to the St. Louis Cardinals for (future Met) Hobie Landrith. 

By now Grissom was 40 years old & only pitched in three games that season before retiring. 

Career Stats:
In his ten-season playing career he was 47-45 with 58 saves & a 3.41 ERA. He struck out 459 batters, walking 343 in 810 innings 
pitched in 358 appearances.

Retirement: After his playing days he became a long-time pitching coach for the California Angels (1961-1966 /1969) working under former Giants manager, Bill Rigney. He coached the Chicago White Sox (1967-1968) & Minnesota Twins (1970-1971) again with Rigney. After being out of baseball for a few years returned as pitching coach with the Chicago Cubs (1975-1976). 

Family: Marv & his wife Francis had one son.

Passing: In 2007, Grissom passed away in Red Bluff, California, at the age of 87.

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