Jim Greengrass of Home (in Cincy)

Some players couldn’t dream up such a great stage name.

GREENGRASS. What a perfect name for baseball. Well, maybe “Homerun” would be a decent substitute for “Owens.”

Jim Greengrass began baseball’s wild career ride at age 16, signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees. Two years in the minors. Two years in the military. An attempt to become a pitcher, scrapped after five straight losses.

Debuting with Cincinnati in September, 1952, Greengrass became a Reds regular in 1953, posting totals of 20 homers, 100 RBI and a .285 average. In 1954, Greengrass smashed a career-best 27 home runs.

However, phlebitis (painful inflammation of leg veins) short-circuited Greengrass’s career. His final big-league days would come with the 1956 Phillies.

Now 82, Greengrass took time to field three questions.

“Hi, Tom,

Thanks for the kind words and hope this note finds you and your family in good health and happy.

1. No making your contracts in those days. Highest salary was $40,000. Stan Musial and Ted Williams.

2. It was my ___ number (#23) through the years and my first at Cincy, so I kept it my whole Cincy career. Phillies first baseman had it when I went to them, so I got #10.

3. I have had that (phlebitis) since then, so you can see not much known about (phlebitis). And there is no cure. It’s tough but I have learned to live with pain. My blood is cloddish. Both legs. But still manage to get around some.

Many happy innings to you, Tom

— Jim”

In the last month, this is the first time I’ve been thrown a curve with any handwriting. Jim’s tight, small cursive is tricky here. He’s saying that #23 was his “basic” number or his “luckie” number. Both sound good to me.

A swell name. Someone who’s been there that still says CINCY. Let’s hope the 2010 season brings teams some more “green grasses.” Thanks to Jim, I know I’ll have many happy innings.

11 thoughts on “Jim Greengrass of Home (in Cincy)”

  1. Jim lives in rural Murray County in a subdivision near Carter’s Lake named Talking Rock Creek. He is one of the nicest guys and has great stories and memories of the game. He played with my 5th cousin Wally Post and I enjoy hearing what he thought of Wally. He is very good about signing his mail. His health is not good so those that want his autograph should act quickly. I sure hope Jim has lots of time left, there is no nicer Old Timer around.
    Michael A. Witt, M. D.

  2. Great guy..I met him once while i was visiting the mountains and just happened upon his place. My family and I were complete strangers and Mr. Greengrass invited us in and welcomed us like we were part of the family, even gave my son( a lillte boy at that time) an autographed baseball and card. What a great guy! I hope he is doing well.

  3. When I was in 3rd grade Jim came to our class to talk to us about his career. Our teacher at the time was his neighbor. I wish I would have been older to really understand how he was a part of history! What a great guy!

  4. Hey–I’m not from Addison but I spent a lot of time there. Will always remember that sign going into town and how proud Addison is of Jimmy. Amazing such a small town could produce such a fine baseplayer.

  5. Hello coach Greengrass,
    I’m Eddie, I played baseball for you at Mt. Bethal, Marietta. I still think, dream and talk about that year. I glad you were part of that year, 1962.

  6. My bride and I are sitting here watching the Cincy Reds play their first 2013 game. April 1, 2013. And I mention Mr. Greengrass. She doesn’t recall him but I do. My father took me to the old Crosley Field when I was young. It had to be because I was born in 44. Thank you Mr. Greengrass. I remember you and Wally Post and all the good guys that didn’t make a lot of money but never lost the opportunity to sign a program. That art is lost on the players of today. Too bad!

  7. I met Jim Greengrass when he served at For Lee Virginia.. He was friends with my Brother in law Wade.
    He is such a great guy! Best wishes to him and his family.. Audrey

  8. Saw Jimmy Greengrass play at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Dodgers were a top club then so they used to beat the Reds on a regular basis. It was only ’56 when they gave the “Bums” a run for their money..but Brooks still won the NL pennant that year!!

  9. What a GREAT gentleman. I was fortunate to know Jim as a coworker at the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office in Marietta Georgia. He worked in the fugitive unit before retiring as a Lieutenant and I can tell you if he ever had hands on an offender, he wasn’t going anywhere. He had muscles in his fingers and hands like a bear. Yet, he was one of the most gentle , fun loving guys you could know. He had a distinctive laugh that was recognizable all the way down the hall. We all had fun with him and respected him. My wife described him as a true gentleman.
    I remember that we were involved in a charity fund raiser softball game back in the 80’s. Jim got up to bat, swung and SMACKED that poor little softball, so hard and fast that the pitcher (also named James) didn’t have time to react and had his jaw broken.
    It is sad to hear of his passing away and from what I read on another web information site, on the same month and day as his baseball debut 09-09. He will be missed.


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