If you have a World Series trophy sitting in your home, you would have to think that life had been pretty good. For former 1984 World Series Champion Johnny Grubb, things got even better as he was elected into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the 2015 class.
“I put that up there as one of the top things in my life,” said Grubb. “I know people have been writing letters and supporting me and that helped me a lot.”
Grubb is a graduate and former baseball coach at Meadowbrook High School and candidly reflected on the day his sports world shifted entirely to baseball.
Then Meadowbrook Head Football Coach Jim Rowe had a strict rule about missing practices. That day, Grubb had a baseball game and a football practice at the same time. Rowe’s clamor was simple – “Come to practice or you’re off the team.” With Grubb’s love of baseball, he skipped practice.
The 5-8 150 pound high school sophomore would have auditioned for quarterback and joked that, since he quit, it allowed Morris Vaughan’s football career to blossom. Vaughan ended up being an All-State and All-District quarterback for the Monarchs.
After high school, Grubb attended Manatee Community College in Florida and caught the eye of several professional scouts, getting drafted multiple times. Grubb turned down the Cincinnati Reds and instead of going pro, he attended Florida State University, where he is also a Hall of Famer.
In 1971, the outfielder was drafted by the San Diego Padres. Just a year and a half later, he made his major league debut on September 10, 1972.
In his first full season in 1973, Grubb hit .311 with eight homers over 113 games. That effort earned him a spot on the Topps Baseball Cards All-Rookie Team. In 1974, Grubb earned a spot at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the mid-summer classic.
Grubb spent the rest of his major league career mostly as a platoon player or valuable bat off the bench. In 1976, he was traded to Cleveland. Two years later, the Indians dealt him to Texas. During spring training in 1983, he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers.
Some athletes never experience the thrill of a championship, but Grubb was able to do so in the twilight of his 16-year career when the Tigers brought home the 1984 World Championship. Grubb singled off San Diego Padres hurler Ed Whitson during a first inning rally.
After baseball, Grubb has been very active at his church, Bethany Christian in Forest Hill, and works with Tommy Nuckols helping teach kids the game. Grubb also gives lessons at Ironbridge Sports Park and assists with Mid-Atlantic Baseball in Chester.
“It’s still fun for me,” said Grubb. “I’m pretty much retired, my grandkids are too busy growing up.”
Grubb was elected along with Ben Wallace (NBA), Fletcher Arritt (football coach at Fork Union Military Academy), Cherie Greer Brown (lacrosse player), Paul Hatcher (basketball coach), Angela Hucles (soccer player) and Mike Stevens (journalist).
“I respect all of my fellow inductees,” said Grubb. “The athletes put up great numbers and coaching isn’t an easy job, especially with that many victories.”
For more information on the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, head to their website, www.vshfm.com.