- 3B, 2B, 1B, OF
- May 20, 1900
- 5' 10"
- 170 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-20-1922 with CHN
George Grantham established a record for batting consistency unmatched by any player in Pirate team history by hitting above .300 every season he played for the Bucs. Actually, Arky Vaughan hit .300 or better every year he was with the team, but one year he ended at .300 on the nose. Grantham never hit below .305 as a Pirate.
Grantham came to the Bucs with Vic Aldridge and minor league firstbaseman Al Neihaus following the 1924 season for Rabbit Maranville, Charlie Grimm and Wilbur Cooper. Grantham presented an interesting proposition. He was only 24 years old and had hit .316 and having both speed and linedrive power seemed the type of player who would excel in Forbes Field, but he also had a porous glove, having led league secondbasemen in errors during his two years as a regular. So glaring was his defensive shortcomings that he had earned the unflattering nickname “Boots,” and Manager Bill McKechnie gave no serious thought to Grantham playing secondbase for the Pirates. Instead, McKechnie announced Grantham would compete for an outfield job in 1925. The manager’s plans changed when Neihaus was injured. With no other firstbasemen on the roster, Grantham was asked to play there and adapted fairly well to the new position. Neihaus never did hit and Grantham became the teams’ regular hitting .326, although the Bucs did pick up veteran Stuffy McInnis to platoon with George, who did have problems against lefthanded pitching. Grantham slumped in the World Series and McKechnie decided to go with McInnis, a superior gloveman, late in the Series.
Grantham hit .318 with 48 extrabase hits in 141 games in 1926 as the everyday firstbaseman. Donie Bush took over the managerial reins in 1927 and when Hal Rhyne disappointed at second, Bush decided to forsake defense and moved Grantham back to the keystone corner. George continued to hit and his .305 average helped the Pirates back into the World Series. His .364 average in the Fall Classic was second only to Lloyd Waner’s .400 among Pirate regulars, but did not curtail the Yankees.
Grantham was back at firstbase in 1928 and hit 10 homeruns with a .323 average. He was bothered by injuries in 1929, but still hit .307 and drove in 90 runs playing in 76 games at second, 14 in the outfield and a dozen at firstbase. Moved back to second fulltime in 1930, Grantham had his best offensive season, batting .324 with career highs in homeruns (18, which tied the club record), triples (14), rbi’s (99) and runs (120), but he led secondsackers in errors with 35. With the NL going with a less lively ball in 1931, Grantham’s average declined to .305, his homeruns to 10 and his rbi’s to 71. The Pirates decided to go with younger players in 1932, and Grantham, 32, was waived to Cincinnati where he saw his batting average dip below .300 to .292 in his last season as a regular. He played one more year with the Reds and finished his ML career with the New York Giants in ’34.
During his prime with the Pirates, Grantham not only played several positions but hit in different spots in the lineup. He often hit leadoff before Lloyd Waner joined the team and later frequently batted second. Batting high in the order, the Pirates were able to take advantage of his excellent OBP’s, which ranged from .396 to .454. His 18 homeruns in 1930 have been bettered only once by a secondbaseman in Pirate history. Bill Mazeroski hit 19 in 1958. Grantham’s 99 rbi’s that year remains the team record for that position. While Grantham was often overshadowed by his more illustrious teammates, such as the Waners, Pie Traynor and Cuyler, he was an excellent team player, willing to fill the role the manager picked for him and always hit well. He was easy to get along with and Gus Suhr remembered him as “a fine man.” George sadly passed away at the age of 53.
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