Wayne Allan Granger
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 165 lb.
- School Springfield College
- High School Huntington (MA) High School
- Debut June 5, 1968
- Final Game June 25, 1976
- Born March 15, 1944 in Springfield, MA USA
Although Wayne Granger only spent three seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, he was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 1982. Those three seasons were dominant, however: in 1969, he pitched 144 2/3 innings with a 9-6 record, 27 saves and a 2.80 ERA. In 1970, he led the National League with 35 saves and posted a 2.66 ERA, while in 1971, he pitched another 100 innings in 70 games in relief, as Clay Carroll became the Reds' top fireman. These three seasons helped to start a tradition of great Reds' bullpens that would be a mainstay of the Big Red Machine throughout the 1970s.
Granger was originally signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965 and reached the majors to stay in June of 1968. He pitched well, going 4-2, 2.25 with 4 saves in 34 appearances as the Cards repeated as National League champions. He was used once in the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, pitching two scoreless innings in Game 6 when the Cards were already trailing 13-0. After the season, he was traded to the Reds with outfielder Bobby Tolan in return for Vada Pinson, one of the greatest outfielders in Reds history, who would however never again be a dominant player. On the other hand, Granger and Tolan immediately became stars for their new team. For Granger, his 90 appearances in 1969 were a new Major League record. Granger was a rail-thin pitcher who relied on a sinker to induce ground balls, and did not strike out many batters. His career high was 68 strikeouts in 1969, and that was in over 140 innings. He was however a real workhorse, standing among major league leaders for games and innings pitched in relief, games finished and saves, from 1969 to 1972. His 35 saves in 1970 were another Major League record at the time. He was named the Sporting News NL Reliever of the Year in both 1969 and 1970.
In 1970, he played one game in left field on May 1st against the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Reds leading 6-4 in the 9th inning, he retired the first two batters, then gave up a single to Roberto Clemente. Lefty Don Gullett came in to face Willie Stargell, whom he struck out to end the game, while Granger moved to the outfield, replacing Bernie Carbo. The Reds won the NL West division title for the first time that year, and in the 1970 NLCS, Granger made his sole appearance in almost carbon-copy circumstances: in Game 3 on October 5th, he retired the first two Pirate batters in the 9th inning, then gave up a single to Clemente and was replaced by Gullett who faced Stargell. This time, he left the game for good, however, and Gullett eventually earned the save in a 3-2 win that sent the Reds to the World Series. The Fall Classic was not Granger's finest moment though. He was roughed up by the Baltimore Orioles in both of his outings, including giving up a grand slam to pitcher Dave McNally in Game 3. He hit the only home run of his major league career on July 9, 1971 against the New York Mets. It came in the bottom of the 8th against Ray Sadecki. The Reds went to win the game, 6-4.
After the 1971 season, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Tom Hall, because the Reds had a surplus of right-handed relievers, prompting the acquisition of the lefthander Hall. He had another solid season in the Twin Cities in 1972, going 4-6, 3.01 with 19 saves in 63 games. That was his last season as a dominant reliever, however. He was traded again after the season, back to the St. Louis Cardinals in return for outfielder Larry Hisle, but he went a disappointing 2-4, 4.24 in 33 games for the Cards in 1973. On August 7th, he was sent to the New York Yankees, but was only used 7 times over the remainder of the year. He allowed at least a run in each of his first six appearances, but an unusually high number were unearned, giving him a misleading 1.76 ERA. He was released by the Yankees at the end of 1974 spring training and was picked up by the Chicago White Sox. He pitched only five times for the Sox, and in his first game, on April 12th, he gave up six runs to the California Angels. He spent the rest of the summer in the minor leagues.
Granger had a bit of a comeback with the Houston Astros in 1975, putting up a decent 3.65 ERA with 5 saves in 74 innings; still in the pitcher's paradise that was the Astrodome in the 1970s, that was only good for a below-average 93 ERA+. He was released after the season and was signed by the Montreal Expos. He earned a spot in the bullpen to start the 1976 season, and quickly picked up two saves in early April. He then moved gradually to the back end of the bullpen, although he continued to pitch decently for a very bad team. On June 28th, he was outrighted to the AAA Denver Bears, having pitched 32 innings with a 3.66 ERA. However, he had also given up 32 hits and 16 walks in those innings. He was very solid in 26 games for Denver, going 3-1, 2.45 as the Bears won the American Association title. Still, the Expos released him in February 1977. He was invited to the Atlanta Braves' training camp, reuniting with Dave Bristol, who had been his manager with the Reds in 1969, but failed to earn a spot on the team. He pitched some more in the minor leagues before hanging up his cleats.
- 2-time NL Reliever of the Year Award Winner (1969 & 1970)
- 2-time NL Games Pitched Leader (1969 & 1971)
- NL Saves Leader (1970)
- 30 Saves Seasons: 1 (1970)