January 7 – Happy Birthday Johnny Grabowski

GrabowskiToday’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was the back up catcher on one of the greatest teams in MLB history, the 1927 Yankees. Johnny Grabowski had broke into the big leagues with the White Sox in 1924 and spent three seasons in the Windy City as a backup receiver to Hall of Fame catcher Ray Schalk. In January of 1927, Chicago traded him and a second baseman named Ray Morehart to the Yankees for second baseman, Aaron Ward. Ward had lost his starting position in New York to a rookie phee-nom named Tony Lazzeri in 1926, making him expendable. Grabowski was the key to the deal for New York. He had developed a reputation with the White Sox as a good defensive catcher and the Yankees wanted him to backup their regular receiver, Pat Collins.

Grabowski filled that spot admirably in 1927, getting 56 starts behind the plate that season and averaging a healthy .277. With Ruth and Gehrig providing the punch, that Yankee team set a record for wins in a 154 game season with 110 and then swept the Pirates in four games in the 1927 World Series. The juggernaut continued the following year as the Yankees won their second straight pennant and pulled off their second straight four-game World Series sweep, this time versus the Cardinals. Grabowski actually started more games behind the plate than any other New York catcher during the 1928 regular season, but his batting average plummeted to just .238 and that offensive ineptitude got him left off that year’s World Series roster. When Grabowski’s offensive troubles continued during the first half of the 1929 season, the Yankees released him.

Grabowski eventually returned to the minors and then got a second shot at the big leagues with Detroit in 1931. When he failed to stick there, he turned to umpiring. He was advancing up the ladder as a minor league man in blue when he was tragically killed attempting to fight a fire in his Guilderland, NY home, in May of 1946. Grabowski was only 46 years old at the time of his death. He shares his January 7th birthday with this former Yankee second baseman and this one-time MVP.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1927 NYY 70 223 195 29 54 2 4 0 25 0 20 15 .277 .350 .328 .678
1928 NYY 75 215 202 21 48 7 1 1 21 0 10 21 .238 .274 .297 .571
1929 NYY 22 64 59 4 12 1 0 0 2 1 3 6 .203 .242 .220 .462
7 Yrs 296 889 816 84 206 25 8 3 86 1 47 84 .252 .295 .314 .609
NYY (3 yrs) 167 502 456 54 114 10 5 1 48 1 33 42 .250 .303 .300 .604
CHW (3 yrs) 89 243 224 21 60 8 2 1 24 0 8 23 .268 .293 .335 .628
DET (1 yr) 40 144 136 9 32 7 1 1 14 0 6 19 .235 .268 .324 .591
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2014.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: