November 1, 2009

Playing Favorites

Okay, so is “True Grich” just a clever play on Bobby Grich’s good name and the movie “True Grit” which starred John Wayne?

Time for some background...

Two things you need to know. I’m a die hard Angels fan and Bobby Grich is my all time favorite Angel. I attended my first game in the late 60s. I have never been able to pinpoint the date of my very first game (which bothers me to no end), but I believe it was around 1968. I’ve never been good with dates, but I can tell you about some specific games I do remember from that period. Unfortunately, just not the first one.

My early recollections of Angels baseball include names like Rick Reichardt, Andy Messersmith, Jim Fregosi, Sandy Alomar (Sr.), Jim Spencer, Ken McMullen, Aurelio Rodriguez, Nolan Ryan, and Alex Johnson to name a few.

In the mid 70’s my family and I moved over seas (my dad was a career Marine) and I missed several years of baseball while I was in high school. I still followed baseball from a far and even used to play statis-pro baseball (a board game similar to strato-matic), but I didn’t get to see much baseball on TV.

When I retuned in 1977 and went on to college, I started going to games once again and found myself back at the “Big A.” It was the same year that Bobby Grich came (via free agency) to Anaheim and shortly thereafter, my admiration began.

I never felt like I was going to get cheated watching Grich play the game. He was old school. He was very intense and showed no fear. He was even cool (still is). He had that big thick moustache and looked more like a football player. He was big and strong and didn’t fit the mold of a typical second baseman at the time. Grich was often exuberant in victory and wore his emotions on his sleeve. He always looked like he wanted to win in the worst way. In my opinion, he was the embodiment of what a baseball player should be.

Grich knew how to take care of business. If you messed with him or one of his teammates, you could count on a little pay back. It would come in the form of a hard slide into a bag, a tag with purpose at the base he was defending or a long home run. The other team knew it was coming and there wasn’t anything they could do about it.

In my eyes, Grich was baseball’s version of a Super Hero. Check out this great post by Josh Wilker on the web site called Cardboard Gods about Bobby Grich. It sums him up pretty good.

Grich played a major role in the Angels first three Western Division championships. He was a six-time all-star and won four Gold Gloves (all with the Orioles). He led the league in homeruns in the strike shortened season of 1981 with 22, earning him a Silver Slugger Award. In 1973 (as a Baltimore Oriole), Grich set the all-time major league fielding record with a .995 fielding percentage. The record was broken in 1980, but Grich took the record back in 1985 (As an Angel), fielding an amazing .997 but didn’t win a Gold Glove (perhaps because he only played 116 of his 144 games at second base).

How good was Bob-Bay? Read this piece from Rich Lederer who makes a case for Grich being a Hall of Famer. I’m not here to make a case for Grich going into the Hall of Fame. I’m just here to tell you he’s in mine.

Grich made being an Angel fan fun. Some of the most memorable times I’ve had as an Angel fan involved Bobby Grich’s days in Anaheim. He was the one guy I wanted to see most. I’d go with some buddies of mine and when Grich came to the plate, I’d yell…”Bob-Bay!” and one of my buddies would follow it up with a “Grich-ah.” I still yell that out now and then and my wife Cheryl joins in.

When I met Bobby in person for the first time in I told him he was my all-time favorite Angel. He was signing autographs at an Angels Fan Fest. He looked up at me and said, “that’s saying something this day and age.”

So when it was time to start this blog, I needed to call it something. I decided to use the name I used for one of my fantasy baseball teams and “True Grich,” the blog was born. I thought it was the perfect tribute to my favorite player. The name just fits.

True Grich is about baseball and the Los Angeles Angels and not so much about John Wayne or his movie “True Grit.” There are parallels between the two though. Like Grich, John Wayne was a man’s man. A movie like True Grit could have easily been about a gritty ball player instead of a cowboy. I also think that if someone would have played Bobby Grich in a movie, John Wayne would have been the perfect choice.

So there you have it. Perhaps this should have been my first post on this blog. I guess I had too many other things to write about first. Hopefully True Grich will embody the spirit of Bobby Grich the baseball player. It will always be about the game as experienced through the eyes of a fan. It shall be fearless and it shall be fun.

Photo by James Ruebsamen - Herald Examiner Collection; Los Angeles Public Library. To see more pictures visit Ballpark Tour.


  1. This is so awesome. I found this blog a while ago and always wanted to post something but never quite knew what to say. I recently started my own blog so I feel better about adding something now. I am Brianna Grich, Bobby Grich's daughter. It is so cool you have this admiration toward my dad, because so do I. Thank you for all the great things you have said about him, and I've showed him your page and he really appreciates it too :)

  2. Thanks, Brianna. I appreciate the high compliments and best of luck with your new blog!