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Steve Gromek

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Stephen Joseph Gromek

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[edit] Biographical Information

Steve Gromek was just 19 years old when he was signed as an amateur free agent in 1939 by the Cleveland Indians. He began his organized baseball career as a shortstop before switching to the mound because of a shoulder injury. He spent his opening year in the minors with the Mansfield Braves of the Ohio State League and the Logan Indians of the Mountain State League in a split season in the infield, appearing in 40 games and hitting at a .283 clip. 1940 found him on the mound for the Flint Gems of the class C Michigan State League where he went 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA. Steve was with the same team in 1941, this time going 14-2 with a 2.90 ERA and left no doubt he was headed uptown to a big league career. As a big leaguer, he went 123-108 with a 3.41 ERA. He was with the Cleveland Indians as a part-time starter and reliever until being traded to the Detroit Tigers early in the 1953 season.

Gromek had his best year in 1945 when he went 19-9 with an excellent 2.55 ERA for Lou Boudreau's fifth-place Indians. That year he beat the New York Yankees by a score of 4-2. Oddly enough he did it without the benefit of an assist behind him with the 27 outs coming on 15 fly balls to the outfield, six infield pop-ups, four strikeouts, and two ground outs to the first baseman that he handled unassisted.

Used mainly out of the bullpen in 1948, he wwent 9-3 for the World Champion Indians. One of his biggest victories came on August 8th when he beat the Yankees, 2-1, before 73,484 fans in the second game of a doubleheader at Municipal Stadium in the heat of a hectic pennant race.

Gromek was the starter and 2-1 winner over Johnny Sain and the Boston Braves in the pivotal fourth game of the 1948 World Series as Cleveland took a 3-1 lead in games. The winning margin was provided by Larry Doby, the Cleveland center fielder, who had become the first black in the American League the previous season.

Steve remained with the Cleveland club until June 15, 1953 when along with Al Aber, Ray Boone and Dick Weik he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Owen Friend, Joe Ginsberg, Art Houtteman and Bill Wight. In Gromek's first start for the Tigers on June 18th, the Boston Red Sox scored a record 17 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning en route to a staggering 23-3 win. Steve was charged with nine of the runs. Four days later the unflappable right-hander bounced back to shut out the Philadelphia A's. Steve remained with the Tigers for five seasons until he was released on August 16, 1957. He had won 45 and lost 41 with a 3.77 ERA for the Tiger team and at age 37 retired from active playing after 17 seasons in pro baseball.

After retiring from active playing Steve managed the Tigers' Class A farm team for a year, then took a sales job with the American Automobile Association for twenty years. Gromek was also involved in community and school athletics and was instrumental in starting the Brother Rice High School baseball program. He also helped found the Pony/Colt baseball league in Birmingham, Michigan. The league's field is named after Gromek's youngest son, Brian, who died of a brain aneurysm at age 16 during baseball practice.

In March 2001, on the occasion of the Cleveland Indians' 100th anniversary, the affable former pitcher was named as one of the "Top 100 Greatest Indians" by a group of sportswriters, baseball historians and fans. He was also inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame that boasts such sports figures as Stan Musial and Mike Ditka.

Gromek died on March 12, 2002, at age 82 in Clinton Township, Michigan.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • AL All-Star (1945)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (1945 & 1954)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (1944, 1945 & 1954)
  • Won a World Series with the Cleveland Indians in 1948

[edit] Sources

Baseball Players of the 1950s

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