Wednesday, November 4, 2020

#284 Don Gross

Don Gross  Pittsburgh Pirates

Career: Pitcher Don Gross, like our previous subject Joe Nuxhall, was a product of the Cincinnati system. He signed with the Reds in 1950 and moved impressively up through the ranks a few steps behind Nuxhall. 

Gross made the Reds' staff for parts of both 1955 and 1956 season and was primarily a starter during those two stints. He put up some pretty decent numbers in '56 (3-0, 1.95 ERA in seven starts) and returned in '57 to spend the whole season with the big club. But he couldn't replicate his previous success and at year's end he was traded to the Pirates for Bob Purkey. Most sources blame a series of arm problems for Gross' failure to sustain his minor league numbers.

Gross worked out of the Pirates' pen for a couple of seasons and collected 9 saves along the way but he was about to run out of chances for big league success. His career ended after a couple of seasons back in the minors and he returned to Cincinnati to raise a family (he had two sons who were ballplayers at the college or minor league level) and went to work in the sporting goods business.

In 1960: Gross made a handful of appearances out of the Pirates' bullpen in April and may before being farmed out to Salt lake City in the PCL. There he took a starters role and had a good season but he never made it back to the Pirates (or any other major league team). He missed out on a shot at pitching in a World Series. God knows he couldn't have done any worse than a lot of the pitchers the Pirates threw out there at the Yanks that fall.

Off The Charts: Interesting tidbit from his SABR bio....Gross wasn’t always a left-hander. “I was right-handed as a young boy,” he said in 1956. “At the age of 7, I caught my arm in a washing machine and broke my arm. I switched to the left and have been throwing and batting that way ever since.” Yikes!

Gross' nephew, Todd Benzinger, had a nine-year big-league career.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa. I've heard about people switching their handedness... but this is probably the most painful story. As for his nephew, I remember getting excited every time I pulled one of his rookie cards out of a 1988 pack.