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Tom Grieve: 'Meaningful' Career with Texas Rangers

"Mr. Ranger" gets his due during a pregame ceremony Sunday that was 56 years in the making.

There are many interesting things about Tom Grieve and his long relationship with the Texas Rangers. One of the most interesting, to me, is that the Rangers have basically fired him twice.

The first time was in 1977. He wasn’t fired, not technically. But the Rangers traded him in memorable fashion. He was part of the first four-team trade in Major League history. It was a trade so dense it took three months to complete. Grieve is part of the reason the Rangers got both Al Oliver and Jon Matlack.

When Grieve’s playing career ended after the 1979 season, he returned to Texas and actually did analysis for Rangers broadcasts in 1980 (as many as there were back then) before moving into the front office and eventually becoming general manager in 1984.

Grieve held that job for 10 seasons until the Rangers, right as Major League Baseball canceled the World Series amid a players’ strike, fired him.

It took Grieve less than a year to find work — as a Rangers television analyst.

Baseball, like many sports, features that sort of oddity. Normal people get let go from a job and they’re unlikely to return to that company, must less twice. Heck, George Steinbrenner hired Billy Martin as manager — what — six times?

But, eventually, Martin wore out his welcome in New York. Grieve never wore out his welcome in Arlington.

Not after signing with the Washington Senators — which eventually became the Rangers — in 1966.

Not after breaking into the Majors with the Senators in 1970.

Not after being traded to New York in 1978 and spending a season in St. Louis in 1979.

Not after being fired by the Rangers in 1994.

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Somehow, the road always brought the kid from Pittsfield, Mass., back to Texas.

“It’s incredibly meaningful to me, the fact that I’ve had such a long career with the Rangers,” Grieve said earlier this week. "My kids grew up here, went to elementary school, middle school and high school with the same kids. We had two houses, one of which we lived in for 32 years. To have that association with one team means so much to me.”

On Sunday, the Rangers honored him for 55 years of service to the same franchise, which sounds absurd these days. Grieve is "Mr. Ranger." He’s a Rangers Hall of Famer. He has been the constant for three generations of Rangers fans, the voice of Rangers championships and the Rangers playing out the string of a losing season. He’s legitimately thrilled about having a bobblehead, which was handed out to fans on Sunday for the 10-4 loss to Cleveland.

He's not worried about retirement, either.

“Everyone asks me what are you going to do when you retire and I always tell them, ‘Even when I was doing games on TV, it was six months of intense work and six months of being retired,’” Grieve said. “Now that my games have gradually diminished, I’ve felt what retirement is like.”

Bobby Valentine came back for Sunday’s ceremony. He was the first manager that Grieve hired on his own, and like Grieve, a Connecticut kid who was a first-round pick as a player. So did Rich Billings, one of Grieve’s teammates from those early, awful Rangers teams (well, not 1974). Grieve threw out the first pitch to Billings on Sunday.

And then the Rangers took the field and Grieve’s number — 6 — was on the field, on the back of third baseman Josh Jung. Like Grieve, Jung was a first-round pick. Like Grieve, much is expected of Jung by the Rangers and by its fans.

Grieve’s playing career really didn’t befit a first-round pick, but that’s baseball. Grieve hit just .249 with 65 homers and 254 RBI in 670 games. Grieve would probably be the first to tell you that he hopes that Jung’s career far exceeds his.

Jung would be wise to hope for a life that ended up like Grieve.

“If I had to wish for something I would wish that I had the words to describe how much I appreciate the fans and how much they’ve meant to me,” Grieve said. “I don’t feel I have the adequate works when I talk about that.”


You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

Catch up with Inside the Rangers on Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Grieve: 'Meaningful' Career with Texas Rangers

"Mr. Ranger" gets his due during a pregame ceremony Sunday that was 56 years in the making.

There are many interesting things about Tom Grieve and his long relationship with the Texas Rangers. One of the most interesting, to me, is that the Rangers have basically fired him twice.

The first time was in 1977. He wasn’t fired, not technically. But the Rangers traded him in memorable fashion. He was part of the first four-team trade in Major League history. It was a trade so dense it took three months to complete. Grieve is part of the reason the Rangers got both Al Oliver and Jon Matlack.

When Grieve’s playing career ended after the 1979 season, he returned to Texas and actually did analysis for Rangers broadcasts in 1980 (as many as there were back then) before moving into the front office and eventually becoming general manager in 1984.

Grieve held that job for 10 seasons until the Rangers, right as Major League Baseball canceled the World Series amid a players’ strike, fired him.

It took Grieve less than a year to find work — as a Rangers television analyst.

Baseball, like many sports, features that sort of oddity. Normal people get let go from a job and they’re unlikely to return to that company, must less twice. Heck, George Steinbrenner hired Billy Martin as manager — what — six times?

But, eventually, Martin wore out his welcome in New York. Grieve never wore out his welcome in Arlington.

Not after signing with the Washington Senators — which eventually became the Rangers — in 1966.

Not after breaking into the Majors with the Senators in 1970.

Not after being traded to New York in 1978 and spending a season in St. Louis in 1979.

Not after being fired by the Rangers in 1994.

Somehow, the road always brought the kid from Pittsfield, Mass., back to Texas.

“It’s incredibly meaningful to me, the fact that I’ve had such a long career with the Rangers,” Grieve said earlier this week. "My kids grew up here, went to elementary school, middle school and high school with the same kids. We had two houses, one of which we lived in for 32 years. To have that association with one team means so much to me.”

On Sunday, the Rangers honored him for 55 years of service to the same franchise, which sounds absurd these days. Grieve is "Mr. Ranger." He’s a Rangers Hall of Famer. He has been the constant for three generations of Rangers fans, the voice of Rangers championships and the Rangers playing out the string of a losing season. He’s legitimately thrilled about having a bobblehead, which was handed out to fans on Sunday for the 10-4 loss to Cleveland.

He's not worried about retirement, either.

“Everyone asks me what are you going to do when you retire and I always tell them, ‘Even when I was doing games on TV, it was six months of intense work and six months of being retired,’” Grieve said. “Now that my games have gradually diminished, I’ve felt what retirement is like.”

Bobby Valentine came back for Sunday’s ceremony. He was the first manager that Grieve hired on his own, and like Grieve, a Connecticut kid who was a first-round pick as a player. So did Rich Billings, one of Grieve’s teammates from those early, awful Rangers teams (well, not 1974). Grieve threw out the first pitch to Billings on Sunday.

And then the Rangers took the field and Grieve’s number — 6 — was on the field, on the back of third baseman Josh Jung. Like Grieve, Jung was a first-round pick. Like Grieve, much is expected of Jung by the Rangers and by its fans.

Grieve’s playing career really didn’t befit a first-round pick, but that’s baseball. Grieve hit just .249 with 65 homers and 254 RBI in 670 games. Grieve would probably be the first to tell you that he hopes that Jung’s career far exceeds his.

Jung would be wise to hope for a life that ended up like Grieve.

“If I had to wish for something I would wish that I had the words to describe how much I appreciate the fans and how much they’ve meant to me,” Grieve said. “I don’t feel I have the adequate works when I talk about that.”


You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

Catch up with Inside the Rangers on Facebook and Twitter.