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Hall of Fame Member Directory

Heinie Groh

Class of 1963

Unless your all-time Reds team has Pete Rose at third base, Groh still deserves the accolade today.

- Authors Greg Rhodes and Mark Stang in 'Reds In Black & White'

One of the most iconic bats ever wielded by a Major League player was the "bottle bat" used by longtime Reds third baseman Heinie Groh. According to Lee Allen in his book The Cincinnati Reds -- a fine book originally published in 1948 and reissued in 2006 in a paperback version that included an index -- the bottle bat emerged out of Groh's difficulty hitting curveballs. Allen writes, "Unable to hit a curve when he started playing professional ball, Groh decided he needed a bat with plenty of hitting space. But the big bats that he would have liked to use were unsuited to him because he could hardly swing them. So he started cutting down the size of the handle, until the bat was light enough for him to swing. One day a teammate shouted, 'Hey, Heinie, what are you using, a bottle?' and there it was. The handle was only about six inches long, but the bat weighed forty-one ounces."

The advent of the unusual bat helped Groh to become one of the better hitters in baseball throughout the 1910s. Originally a second baseman, Groh began his career with the New York Giants in 1912. In May of 1913, Groh was traded to Cincinnati, where the Reds immediately made him their starting second baseman. In 1915, the club shifted him to third base and by 1916, Groh posted the fifth-highest batting average in the National League.

One of the stars of the Reds first world championship team in 1919, Groh, like so many of his teammates, held fast to the belief that the Reds were better than their World Series opponents that season, the now infamous White Sox. In an interview for Lawrence Ritter's 1966 book, The glory of their Times, Groh commented, "Well, maybe the White Sox did throw [the World Series]. I don't know. Maybe they did and maybe they didn't. It's hard to say. I didn't see anything that looked suspicious. But I think we'd have beaten them either way; that's what I thought then and I still think so today."

Groh played with the Reds through the 1921 season -- posting a .298 lifetime average as a Red -- and regularly ranked among the league's leaders in on-base percentage (he led the league in 1917 and 1918), walks, doubles and runs scored. Discord resulting from a lengthy holdout that saw Groh miss most of the first three months of the 1921 season prompted the Reds to trade him back to the Giants at season's end. Groh played on Giants pennant-winners in 1922, 1923 and 1924 and hit a Series-best .474 in 1922. So proud was Groh of this accomplishment that he incorporated the number on his car's license plate.

Groh retired to Cincinnati following the 1927 season. He joined teammate Rube Bressler in the Reds Hall of Fame Class of 1963. Groh died on Aug. 24, 1968 at the age of 78.

Henry Knight Groh
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 8"
Weight:
158
Born:
September 18, 1889, Rochester, New York, USA
Death:
August 22, 1968, Cincinnati, Ohio
How Acquired:
Traded by the NY Giants with Red Ames, Josh Devore and $20,000 to the Reds on May 22, 1913
Debut:
April 12, 1912 vs. Brooklyn Dodgers
Final Game:
October 2, 1927 vs. Cincinnati Reds
Inducted
into the Reds Hall of Fame 1963
Reds Career Statistics
Career Statistics for Heinie Groh
G AB R H TB 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
1211 4439 663 1323 1748 224 75 17 408 513 257 158 .298 .378 .394 .772
Full Career Statistics »
Player image for Henry Knight Groh

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