Former Mid Sixties Mets Pitcher: Joe Grzenda (1967) & His Washington Senators / Nationals Story
In 1970 he appeared in 49 games going 3-6 with six saves. He had his best 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.
Trivia: He loved playing in Washington D.C. & was sad to leave the city, especially after his best season. He was called in to pitch the final inning, of the last game the Senators played in D.C. Manager, Ted Williams waved him in to hold down a 7-5 lead over the AL New York team.
He got the first two outs & shouted at Horace Clarke to get in the batters box. But no sooner did the fans storm the field, grabbing what they could from the Senators, in their final game. The game was forfeited.
After the game he, his wife Ruth & their two children left the ballpark forever, with his 11 year old son crying that his team was gone. Grzenda took the ball from that last at bat & had never let it go.
In 2005, Grzenda got to use that actual ball & hand it to President George W. Bush to throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals debut in D.C. at JFK Stadium. He was instructed by the Secret Service how to hand the ball to Bush, but he told them he wanted it back. Geroge W. made sure he got it back.
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.
After baseball he worked as a security guard & making car batteries for 25 years, in north east Pennsylvania.
Grzenda passed away on July 12th, 2019 at age 82.