Eli Grba

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Eli Grba

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Biographical Information[edit]

Eli Grba packed a lot of notoriety into a five-year major league career. First, his unusual last name, with its lack of vowels in the middle of the word, got immediate attention. Second, he appeared in the 1960 World Series as a pinch-runner with the New York Yankees after going 6-4 as a pitcher in the regular season. Third, he was the first pick by the Los Angeles Angels in the 1960 expansion draft and threw the first pitch in franchise history (Grba got the win in the Angels' first game). He spent his last three seasons in the majors with the Angels.

He was a pretty good hitter for a pitcher, with a lifetime batting average of .219. In 160 career at-bats in the majors, he had 5 doubles and 4 home runs.

He was first signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1952 and was in the minors with the Salisbury Rocots in 1953, Corning Red Sox in 1954, San Jose Red Sox in 1955 and San Francisco Seals in 1956. He was traded to the Yankees before the 1957 season but was in the military in 1957 and 1958, then appeared with the Richmond Virginians in 1959 and 1960. In 1964 he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs - by then he seemed to be having difficulties seeing the catcher's signals through his thick spectacles. He was a scout for the Oakland A's in 1969-1971.

He had long had a penchant for partying and drinking, and in 1981, this led to an accident when he drunkenly fell through an open awindow at a rehabilitation facility. The accident turned him around as he then got serious about getting back control of his life. He was a pitching coach for various minor league teams from 1982-1988, including the Vancouver Canadians in 1982-1983, Waterbury Angels in 1984, Reno Padres in 1985-1987, and Vancouver again in 1988. He was a minor league manager in 1989 and 1990. He was a pitching coach for the Martinsville Phillies in 1991, and scouted from 1992-1997. He passed away in early 2019 at the age of 84 after battling pancreatic cancer.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1961)

Year-By-Year Minor League Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1969 Lodi Crushers California League 6-15 8th Oakland Athletics replaced Billy Klaus (43-62) and Warren Hacker (8-6) on August 14
1989 Reno Silver Sox California League 68-74 6th none
1990 Princeton Patriots Appalachian League 31-36 7th none

Further Reading[edit]

  • Maria Torres: "Eli Grba, the Original Angel, dies at 84", The Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2019. [1]
  • Douglas Williams: Baseball's Fallen Angel Eli Grba: A Major Leaguer's Life Story of High Expectations, Hidden Pitfalls, and His Ongoing Fight In Recovery, Infinity Publishing, Conshohocken, PA, 2016. ISBN 978-1495806674

Related Sites[edit]