Ross Grimsley – 1981 Fleer
September 22, 2010
“None More Black”
I didn’t see Night Owl post this on his night card set, and I don’t mean to impose on his space, but this card is night time personified.
It’s Spinal Tap “Smell The Glove” black.
Was pitching for the Cleveland Indians in 1980 like death?
Well, Grimsley pitched like death for them.
He was fabulous in ’78 for the Expos, struggled big time in ’79, and in ’80 was even worse. The Expos flipped him for Dave Oliver. So a 1978 All-Star was traded, just two seasons later, for someone with 29 career ABs in the majors, was hitting .268 in the PCL AND was out of the game the next season.
You think Grimsley’s peculiar laundry and hygiene habits got on the Expos nerves when his ERA was over 6? Yeah, me too.
So now he was Cleveland’s problem. The 1980 Indians finished 79-81, which was just meh. Dave Garcia must have done a nice job, since they were 8th in runs scored, last in ERA and had a pythagorean record of 73-87. But it was hard to get excited by the staff who were:
Barker, Waits, Spillner, Garland, Monge, Owchinko, Victor Cruz, (The Original) Mike Stanton, and Wihtol.
They also had John Denny, who was hurt mid-season, thus the need for Grimsley. But this wasn’t John Denny, ERA champ nor John Denny, Cy Young Leader. It was John Denny, blah pitcher for a blah team. Actually, Grimsley’s first game (a scintillating 4 ER in 2 IP performance in a 12-2 loss to Texas).
Denny’s injury forced the Indians to put Grimsley in the rotation, as they thought they had no other choices to keep themselves bleah instead of mega-bleah. He made 11 starts and, well, mega-bleah.
(Did Cleveland have internal choices? Well, they had just FOUR affiliates – AAA Tacoma, AA Chattanooga, A Waterloo, and short-season Batavia. Mike Paxton was at Tacoma, but he washed out in Cleveland earlier. They seemed to be committed for not allowing Tom Brennan a chance for the most part. Brennan had been at AAA since, oh, 1974!)
This card, though, is the epitome of the bleakness Grimsley and Cleveland were experiencing in 1980. A night game at Municipal Stadium. Grimsley pitched in 7 games at home. Two were back ends of double dips, and one was played in rain, so there are four games that this shot could be taken from.
I’m picking September 9, 1980 – The Red Sox at Cleveland. 5,104 stared, with great ennui, at the contest. Grimsley was facing Dennis Eckersley. Somehow, with Miguel Dilone leading off and a DP combo of Alan Bannister and Tom Veryzer, Grimsley left the game with a 3-1 lead after 5 1/3 innings. However, he left the bases loaded for Victor Cruz. Sac fly by Tony Perez and a single by Dwight Evans tied the game. Cruz lost the game in the 9th, long after Grimsley hit the showers (or not) and pulled on his ratty t-shirt and torn jeans.
Cruz lost the game after Don Zimmer used a sac bunt with one out in the ninth, so Gary Hancock could bat with a runner in scoring position.