Bob Grim: The Pitch That Ruined the New York Yankees Rookie of the Year

Harold FriendChief Writer ISeptember 18, 2011

Yankee Stadium
Yankee StadiumEzra Shaw/Getty Images

Bob Grim was the 1954 American League rookie of the year. The New York Yankees right-hander won 20 games, lost six, and had a 3.26 ERA.

Grim started 20 games and made 17 relief appearances. Eight of his wins came in relief. He worked 199 innings, allowing 175 hits.

Grim is the only pitcher to win 20 games and pitcher fewer than 200 innings.

The Yankees signed Grim as a free agent in 1948 at the age of 18. He missed the 1952 and 1953 seasons defending freedom, and when he returned, he joined the Yankees.

Following his outstanding rookie season, Grim developed arm problems, which he attributed to throwing the slider, a pitch that became popular following WW II.

In a 1985 interview, Grim gave this advice to young pitchers: "Stay away from the slider. It's a great pitch, but it's awful hard on your arm.''

Grim lived in Kansas City, where he had been a liquor salesman since 1967.

''I was on top of the world,'' Grim said. ''Being with the Yankees was a dream, then everything changed fast. After my rookie year, my arm began hurting. X-rays showed nothing, but there were calcium deposits on my elbow. That was bad: I was a thrower, not a finesse pitcher.''

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Following two mediocre seasons, Grim made a comeback in 1957, winning 12 games and leading the league with 19 saves.

Yankees manager Casey Stengel used him to quell rallies, which meant that Grim rarely entered a game with the bases empty.

The Yankees acquired Ryne Duren in 1958. Duren was blazing fast, had control problems, and wore thick glasses because he had trouble seeing home plate, which didn’t make batters happy.

Duren replaced Grim as the Yankees main pitcher out of the bullpen.

At the trading deadline on June 15, the Yankees, who needed starting pitching despite running away with the pennant, sent Grim and first baseman/outfielder Harry "Suitcase" Simpson to their friends in Kansas City in exchange for right-handers Duane "Duke" Maas and Virgil "Fire" Trucks.

An interesting sidelight is that earlier on June 15, Kansas City and Cleveland pulled off a significant trade that resulted the Athletics' getting Roger Maris from Cleveland. We all know what happened following the 1959 season when the Yankees had to bolster their offense.

Grim managed to win seven games for the Athletics, but he was merely hanging on.

Kansas City sent him to Cleveland in the spring of 1960, the Indians sent him to Cincinnati in May, and the St. Louis Cardinals purchased his services from the Reds at the end of July.

He won a total of three games.

Following the 1960 season, at the age of 30, Grim retired.

Reference:

"Get Maas and Trucks From A’s." New York Times. 16 June 1958. P. 29.