The Squirrels’ pitching coach, Ross Grimsley, is a former 20 game winner in the Majors where he participated in three postseasons and one All Star Game — plus he was a very colorful player back in the day.
With the Squirrels finishing up a home stand against the Senators and the All Star break, we are holding off on the weekly report until Thursday. Today we are going to take a moment to get to know pitching coach, Ross Grimsley. Coach Grimsley is a former 20 game winner in the Majors where he participated in three postseasons (with Cincinnati and Baltimore) and one All Star Game. He was a very colorful player back in the day, but it seems he has mellowed over the years and is doing a wonderful job with Squirrels’ staff this season.
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QBack in your playing days, you were known for being more superstitious than your average baseball player. What were some of your favorite traditions and has this surreptitiousness rubbed off onto any of your players?
AI think all players have certain things they do and don’t do. You can call them superstitious or just trying to keep things the same when you are doing well. I did a few things that have been changed by whomever to make it look more outrageous to the public. I would wear the same sweatshirt when I was pitching well. It was washed each time I wore it. Not sure how that got started about never taking a shower or washing my sweatshirt. As far as the witchcraft thing, that started when I received a stone covered in wire from a supposed witch. I won 3 or 4 games in a row then lost the stone. Someone made that into me being into witchcraft, trying to contact her for another stone and so on and so forth. Not true, sorry. It was blown up and stuff added to the story to make it more unbelievable.
QYou might have had the best hair of any player I have ever seen. Do you ever let it grow out in the off season?
ANo, my hair has gotten gray and I am losing it. It was the thing back then in the 70’s. I was into hard rock music and liked the look. I took it a bit too far I think. I was raised by ex-air force parents, and my dad was strict on how my hair should look. When I got away from home, I went too far with the long hair look.
QYou played for some great coaches including Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson. What, if any, did you learn from them and use with your players today?
AI learned things from each of them. Earl Weaver, I feel was the fairest and let you do your thing. Never messed with you or tried to keep you from being yourself. Just go out and do your job. He would stick with you much longer and give you more chances that the other two. Sparky did not like pitchers. My relationship with him was not the best. I did not like the way I was treated in Cincinnati by him, but I will admit, I was wrong on some things he said and had done to me and others. Dick Williams was a hard crusty type. Good when things were going well and a bit tough on all when bad. Will say, I have learned a lot from all of them on how to treat people and players. The right way to treat them and things I would never say or do to a player.
QHow have you enjoyed Richmond? Have you had any time to get out and explore the city?
AMy wife and I love the city and have really considered moving here. You just never know where the Giants want you to go each year, so that makes it hard to make the decision to move. We live outside of Baltimore now and our kids and there families keep us near.
QYou are currently coaching the Eastern League’s most dominant staff. Tell us a little more about what kind of guys you have in Eric Surkamp and Ryan Verdugo.
AWe have some young pitchers that have done a very good job so far this year. Its all about learning and getting better each day. We have sent a few guys to our 3A team which is the goal for our guys. Really the goal is the ML, but you must learn and gain experience in the minors first. Very proud of what our guys have done so far and what they have learned.
QWe often overlook the bullpen when evaluating pitching staffs. Who has really stepped it up for the Squirrels in relief?
AAs I said before several our our pitchers have been sent to 3A. Ronny Ray, and Dowdy, and Otero, have been outstanding and deserved to go. All of the other guys have really improved and done well so far. Our new pitchers (Correa and Hembree) have shown they have good arms.
QI’m suggesting to the promotions team that we need to have Ross Grimsley night at The Diamond. Besides giving away big wigs at the door, what else could we do to best reflect you as a player or a coach?
AI really appreciate that idea, but I really feel my time has passed for that sort of thing. Its time to focus on the now players here. It is nice that people think of you and some of the things you have accomplished or have done. I am kinda shy when it comes to that stuff. A lot of people don’t know that, but I am. I just try to pass on some of the positive things I was taught on and off the field.
It took me a while to grow up and understand some things. I made some mistakes like we all do. We have to learn from them and move on in life. I have become a better listener and try to understand players and what is going on in their lives. They keep me young and give me energy. I have put their lives and their dreams before mine. I know what they are trying to accomplish and where they want to be. I was there. I lived my dream. Now its my turn to help them reach and live theirs.