Henry Knight “Heinie” Groh
Born: September 18, 1889 - Rochester, NY
Died: August 22, 1968 - Cincinnati, OH
Career BA: .292
Managerial Record: 7–3
New York Giants NL (1912–1913, 1922–1926)
Cincinnati Reds NL (1913–1921, player-manager: 1918)
Pittsburgh Pirates NL (1927)
One of the best third baseman of the Deadball Era, Heinie Groh was certainly given consideration for our Cracker Jack All-Stars Team. With a solid .292 lifetime batting average and very good defensive numbers, Groh led the National League in various categories over his 16-year big-league career. At one time or another, he was league leader in on-base percentage, runs, doubles, hits, and walks; and he was near the top in batting average on a couple occasions.
The diminutive 5-foot, 6-inch Groh had such small hands that he needed custom made bats to accommodate his small grip. The “bottle bat,” featuring a thicker barrel and thinner handle than normal, was designed for Groh and he became a holy terror with the bat. Groh’s best years were with the Reds where in 1918 he batted a lofty .320 and took over as manager at the end of the season when Christy Mathewson left to join Uncle Sam. He starred in the 1919 World Series against the infamous Black Sox, and in 1922 he had an outstanding Series against the Yanks, batting .474 in the five-game set. Groh also played on three other pennant-winning teams: the 1923 and 1924 Giants, and the 1927 Pirates.
There are not many third basemen in the history of the game that surpass Groh as a fielder, especially if you take into consideration the equipment and playing surfaces of his day. As a third baseman, Groh led the league in putouts three times and fielding percentage five times. After a knee injury in 1924, Groh essentially became a part-time player during his last three Major League seasons. He went on to manage in the minors and scouted for the Giants, Dodgers and the Phillies until 1953. The little guy with the big stick, Heinie Groh deserves another look by the Hall of Fame.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html