Monday, February 28, 2011

#102 - Bill Greif

Our next Padre/Washington Nat'l guy is Bill Greif, which despite the way I had always said it is pronounced "Grife." Here he warms up in an action shot at Riverfront. I have to admit that over the course of this blog so far I have grown to like these yellow uniforms. It's a pretty good thing, then, that my chosen field of endeavor is not as GM of a baseball team. The yellow does look pretty good against the almost-blue artificial turf. Bill was in the middle of arguably his best season at the time of this shot. While he would put up an excellent ERA though, he was rewarded with yet another crappy record as San Diego once again finished dead last in NL hitting. Things wouldn't get better any time soon and Bill was frequently referred to as a "hard-luck" pitcher. This, then, is a very appropriate card shot for Bill: twice he took the hill in Cincy in '73 and both games started around 2:00 (so that small shadow isn't much help in picking the date). One start was May 18th and the other September 23rd. Both times he went up against Jack Billingham who was having an excellent All-Star season. I am going to go with the September game since Bill has the long shirt on. He lost that one 3-2 though he gave up zero walks and struck out seven in his seven innings. That qualifies as a hard-luck loss to me. 

Like Bobby Valentine, Bill Greif was drafted out of high school in '68, he in the third round by the Astros. A local boy from Austin, Bill was a multi-sport guy and QB'd his football team to a state championship. The next few seasons he wound his way through the minors, spending roughly a year at each level. He did pretty well with an ERA in the low three's although he was only 25-29 as primarily a starter. In '69 he followed up a good Rookie ball year with a couple solid starts in A ball and then his elbow popped. He threw only 30 innings between those early starts and some later rehab work. Two more good years followed in Double A and Triple A respectively. That second season of '71 his ERA moved up a bit but his K totals got everyone excited and he saw his first MLB work that year when he was called up in late July to replace an injured Larry Dierker in the rotation. That December he went to San Diego with Derrel Thomas for Dave Roberts (the pitcher, not the infielder).

Grief thereby joined a pretty horrible team and fit right in with a horrible '72 record of his own. His first start for the Padres was a shutout of Atlanta, but things went downhill fast. At one point during the year he went 0-7 while shaving a run from his ERA. In '73 he would add a knuckle curve (sort of) and throw three two-hitters. He was still seven games under .500 and it would prove to be by far his best season as a starter as in '74 he went 9-19 with a 4.66 ERA while leading the NL in HBP's. He was then moved to the bullpen in '75. The Padres started relatively strongly that year and Bill was one of the leaders in relief topping the club with nine saves. But he started '76 with an ERA above 8.00 and was soon sent to St. Louis for Luis Melendez. While he threw better for the Cards, his performance was less than stellar and after the season he went to Montreal (his '77 card is one of the worst air-brush jobs ever). But the Expos released him in spring training and he never played a game for them. After an abbreviated comeback in '78 with the Mets at Tidewater he hung them up. He finished with a record of 31-67 and an ERA of 4.41, 18 complete games, five shutouts, and 19 saves. In the minors he was 24-30 with a 3.20 ERA.

While playing Greif was able to get an undergrad degree in psychology at the University of Texas. He then acquired a Masters in Education from Texas State and went on to a career in real estate, based in Austin. Further down the road his wife got breast cancer which was treated successfully and the two of them began a support service for cancer victims and their families. It is linked to here.

Bill was a big boy and was sought after by a bunch of colleges, particularly in Texas. The shutout mentioned in the third star bullet is one of the two-hitters named above. He may have been a switch hitter but it didn't help any: his lifetime batting average was below .100. Bill has a SABR bio.

We are in the midst of one of the Topps west coast swings. Let's see if it helps:

1. Greif and Dave Winfield '73 to '76 Padres;
2. Winfield and Bobby Valentine '75 to '77 Padres.

Greif was gone before Valentine got his requisite at bats, a stat I totally made up.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the pronunciation on his name --- I've always mispronounced it