Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6-2″ Weight: 180
Born: Saturday, January 15, 1949 in Muskegon, MI USA
Debut: June 29, 1970 WSA 3 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Last Game: October 2, 1986 TEX 4 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Full Name: Robert Anthony Grich
View Player Bio from the SABR BioProject
Baseball-Reference Stats Page
An excellent fielder with a surprisingly powerful bat, Grich was one of the AL’s best all-around second basemen for over 15 seasons with the Orioles and Angels, earning All-Star recognition six times. The 6’2″ 180-lb Grich was big for a middle infielder, but as a converted minor league shortstop, he had excellent range and was known as a fantastic pivot-man, winning four Gold Gloves. He generated considerable power with a strong-wristed righthanded batting stroke clubbing 224 long balls for his career.
Grich was TSN Minor League Player of the Year at Rochester (International League) in 1971, hitting .336 with 32 HR and leading the league’s shortstops in fielding, and as a 23-year old rookie with the Orioles in 1972, he played shortstop for the AL in the All-Star Game, finishing the season at .278 with 12 HR. Grich moved to second base full-time in 1973 and promptly set a ML record for that position with a .995 fielding percentage, and from 1973-76 he reached double figures in home runs and stolen bases each year while hitting near .260. On June 1, 1975, Nolan Ryan struck out Grich for the final out in his fourth no-hitter. The win was the 100th of Ryan’s career.
Grich became a free agent after the 1976 season and signed with the Angels for 1977, only to spend most of the year on the DL. He then had a miserable year offensively in 1978 but rebounded in 1979 to hit .294 with career highs in HR (30) and RBI (101) as the Angels won the AL West. In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Grich was one of four AL players to tie for the league home run title with 22, (he tied Tony Armas, Dwight Evans and Eddie Murray) was the first by an American League second baseman since Nap Lajoie in 1901.
and also led the league with a .543 slugging percentage while batting a career-high .304. In the field, Grich had lost some range but was still sure-handed, and in 1985 he regained his ML fielding record (which had been broken by Rob Wilfong in 1980) with a .997 percentage, committing only two errors at second base all season.
Grich played in the ALCS five times, yet never reached the WS. He came closest in his final ML season (1986), when the Angels blew a 5-2 lead to the Red Sox in the ninth inning of Game Five, then lost Games Six and Seven as well.
Typical of this underrated player, Grich had his best offensive performance in the strike-shortened 1981 season. He tied for the lead in homers (22), led the loop in slugging (.543) and hit a career-high .304. In addition, he was still one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball, getting to more balls than just about anyone.
The 1986 Playoffs
The collapse by the Angels in the ’86 Playoffs is well chronicled. What may be forgotten is that Grich, at age 37, hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning to put California ahead of Boston in Game Five. The same Game Five that saw the Sox score four runs with two out in the ninth inning and win in extra-innings. The home run was especially sweet for three reasons: 1) it came at home in front of the home crowd, 2) it brought Grich and the Angels close to their first trip to the Fall Classic, and 3) it helped atone for Grich’s terrible post-season past. In 24 games, Grich hit .182 (16-for-88) with five runs scored in the playoffs. But the Angels lost games six and seven, and Grich and his teammates were devastated. In the clubhouse after the final out of Game Seven, Grich had tears in his eyes when he said, “That series was an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved. I thought we had it.” He announced his retirement moments later.