Mar 22, 2015

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

Marvin Edward Grissom was born March 31, 1918 in Los Molinas, California. His older brother Lee Grissom was a left handed pitcher, mainly playing with the Cincinnati Reds (1934-1939) going 29-48 lifetime with seven saves & a 3.89 career ERA. Marv began to pitch on Sundays because his high school had no baseball team. He went off to World War II in 1941 & did four years of military service.

There he pitched against a team managed by the New York Giants star Johnny Mize. Mize was impressed the six foot three right handed Grissom, especially his wicked curve ball. When he got back from the war he was asked by the Giants if any ball players had impressed him in the service, he recommended Grissom. He was signed and began pitching with the AAA Jersey City Giants going 4-10 in 1946.

That season he got a brief call up for four games and went 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 appear with them in 1949 and by this time was already thirty years old. Grissom was sent once again to the Pacific Coast League as two more seasons would pass him by. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox where he went 12-10 as a starter in 1952. He was then traded to Boston, before getting put on waivers then getting picked up, returning to the Giants in 1953. That winter the Giants toured Japan & since they only had six pitchers Grissom was always willing to pitch. He later said that those innings built up his arm to have a strong 1964 campaign.

Grissom came to New York with a 3-6 record & went 3-2 the rest of the way. He saved the first game of the 1954 season against the Brooklyn Dodgers, in relief of Sal Maglie. He had a great month of June going 6-1 with four saves lowering his ERA to 1.52 by July 1st. He made the All Star team and helped the Giants win the World Series as one of the league’s best relievers. He finished with a solid September going 1-0 with three saves. In that 1954 Giants Championship season he went 10-7 with 19 saves (3rd best in the league). He appeared in 56 games pitching 122 innings, striking out 54 batters while posting a 2.35 ERA.

Post Season: In the 1954 World Series Grissom had a front row seat for Willie Mays famous Game One catch which is now called the greatest catch of all time. He was warming up in the bullpen a few feet away from Mays when he made the grad in deep center field off Vic Wertz. Right after the catch Manager Leo Durocher summoned Grissom from the bull pen, to relieve pitcher Don Liddle. As Grissom arrived on the mound, Liddle gave Grissom the ball & said “I got my man”.

Grissom later said while pitching in the Polo Grounds he always felt safe with Willie Mays out there in center field. He entered that Game #1 with a 2-2 tie in the 8th inning. He pitched 2.2 innings allowing no runs on one hit, striking out two & walking three Cleveland Indians. He pitched out of a few jams & earned the win on Dusty Rhodes three run pinch hit HR. It was his only Series appearance.

Over the next four years he was among the tops in the league in saves, appearances & had four straight seasons with perfect .1000 fielding percentages. In the Giants last year at the Polo Grounds he saved 14 games (second most in the league) going 4-4 with 55 appearances (4th most in the league) posting a 2.61 ERA. When the Giants moved out west he was happy to return close to his home in Red Bluff, California. In San Francisco in 1958 he saved ten more 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. In his ten season playing career he was 47-45 with 58 saves, making 358 appearances posting a 3.41 ERA in 810 innings pitched.

Retirement: After his playing days he became a long time pitching coach for the Los Angeles / California Angels (1961-1966/1969) also the Chicago White Sox (1967-1968) and Chicago Cubs (1975-1976). Grissom passed away in Red Bluff, California, at the age of 87 in 2005.

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