Saturday, December 11, 2004
8 Days of Jewish Baseball
Number 39; Relief Pitcher
There isn't a whole lot of information out there on John Grabow, since he hasn't been playing in the majors for very long. He pitched in five games after a September callup in 2003, made the US Olympic qualifying team the same year, and was on the Pirates' 40-man roster for all of 2004. He began in the minors as a starting pitcher, but moved over to the bullpen. By the time he got to the majors he had started to make a name for himself as a specialist in getting out lefties (he pitches left-handed). I don't think he's quite as specialized as, say, Mike Myers... i.e. he still can pitch against righties, but I think he's better against lefties.
In 2002, when he was in the Pirates' AA system, he was tied for 2nd in the league in shutouts and tied for third in starts.
Grabow was raised a relatively nonreligious home, although it was apparently quasi-kosher (probably something like what I do... no pigbits, no shellfish, but the plates can have milk and meat on them and I won't blow a gasket). His grandmother, however, is from Brooklyn and is very orthodox, to the point where visits to her house prompted Grabow to say, "Some of it I don't understand. I just ask which food I can put on which plates."
At a team banquet at the start of the 2004 season Grabow was approached by a man who gave him a list of Jewish major leaguers. He expressed surprise, saying that he didn't even realize people specifically followed Jewish players.
When asked if he would mind being the focal point of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Grabow said that he'd get a kick out of it. "That would be something that would be cool. My grandmother would really like that."
Any guy who think it's cool to be recognized as a Jewish player because his grandmother would like it is OK in my books.
Tomorrow's Jewish Ballplayer of the Day is number 48. Take a guess or wait and see.