Friday, December 05, 2008

#112 Derrell Griffith

griffith by you.
The sun must have been signing especially brightly for Derrell Griffith's photo shoot, which would account for his nearly closed eyes. Or perhaps the photographer caught him blinking, and Topps used the photo anyway because they really liked his good-natured smile. The future certainly looked bright for Derrell, though looks would be deceiving in his case.

Born in Anadarko, Oklahoma, Derrell Griffith signed with the Dodgers in 1962 and shot through the minor leagues, hitting .313 with 54 extra-base hits in his first swings at pro pitching. After driving in 98 runs and banging another 63 XBH at Albuquerque in 1963, the 19-year-old was viewed as a can't-miss prospect. He was batting .318 at AAA Spokane in 1964 when the Dodgers called him up in June. Derrell made an early impact with his bat, carrying a .300 average midway through September and finally settling at .290 with 16 doubles. (It's odd that the cartoon on his card back says ".294"!) Of course, Derrell didn't look quite so polished in the field. He held his head above water in the outfield, committing two errors in 29 games, but Frank Howard and the Davises (Tommy and Willie) were established out there. So the Dodgers used the rookie at third base, and...ugly doesn't begin to tell the story. In 35 games, he committed 21 errors for a .769 fielding average. It makes one wonder if he was given a left-hander's glove as an elaborate hazing ritual.

Whether it was his misadventures at the hot corner or just a sense that he wasn't quite ready, the Dodgers used Griffith sparingly in 1965 and 1966, shuttling him back to the minors a few more times. He hit just .143 (8-for-56) in those two seasons, though Los Angeles was at least smart enough to keep him in the outfield when he did play. Following the 1966 season, they traded the youngster and All-Star Tommy Davis to the Mets for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman. The Mets turned around a few months later and dealt Derrell to the Astros for Sandy Alomar, and though he was just 23 years old, the once-promising Dodger phenom never played another game in the major leagues. Our glimpse of Derrell Griffith ends here, as he seems to have eased into anonymity in the ensuing four decades.

Fun fact: Derrell owned Bob Gibson, touching him up for 5 hits in 9 at-bats, including a ninth-inning home run to spoil a shutout bid by the St. Louis ace in August 1964!

griffithb by you.


  1. Griffith was a guy I had never heard of until I started collecting 1960s baseball cards. I had thought I had known all about the '60s Dodgers teams, and then was shocked to find this guy, who seemed to have some promise, that I did not know. Again, baseball cards are educational, kids.

  2. You've got that right! I recently came across a Dennis Rasmussen Orioles card from 1992 Stadium Club. He never pitched for the team in the regular season, going 0-7 at AAA before being released in June. The more you know...