March 31 – Happy Birthday Marv Grissom

66462Those few New York Giants’ fans still around who actually saw the World Champion 1954 team play will tell you that Leo Durocher’s ball club might not have won the pennant without their ace closer, Marv Grissom. The California-born right-hander went 10-7 that year with 19 saves, made the NL All Star team and was also the winning pitcher in the first game of the Giants’ four-game sweep versus the Indians in the ’54 World Series. Not bad for a guy who was put on waivers by the Red Sox a year earlier.

Grissom was one of the thousands of young ballplayers who had promising careers derailed by service in WWII. His much-older brother Lee had been a big league pitcher during the thirties and it looked as if Marv was about to join him, when the attack at Pearl Harbor happened. He ended up spending the next four years assisting in a military operating room and by the time he got back to baseball in 1946, he was already 28-years-old.

He made a brief big league debut as a Giant in 1946 and then spent the next six seasons bouncing up and down between the Majors and Minors. He finally stuck with the White Sox as a member of their 1952 starting rotation and went 12-10 that year. That’s when the Red Sox got him along with pitchers Hector Skinny Brown and Bill Kennedy for their then-over-the-hill shortstop, Vern Stephens.

Grissom was inserted into Boston’s rotation during the second month of the ’53 season and in 11 starts he went 2-6 with a 4.60 ERA. That’s what got him put on the waiver wire at the all-star break and led to his signing by the Giants. Though had turned 36-years-old just before his outstanding ’54 season started, Grissom continued pitching well out of the Giants’ bullpen for the next four seasons and was on hand when the team relocated to Grissom’s native California, after the 1957 season. He retired after the 1959 season and died in 2005 at the age of 87.

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