Cubs of Yore: Ty Griffin

January 07, 2008 | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

Georgia Peach of Shit

Played for The Cub: never

Random Write-up: There are a few names in Cub memories that make you wince. Okay, there are many of them. The Amateur Baseball Draft and The Cubs go together about as well Tina and Ike Turner. Many first round picks leave you scratching your head: Mike Harkey, Derek May, Brooks Kieschnick, etc. However underachieving they may have been, at least they had a Major League career. Ty Griffin was never afforded one. The 9th overall selection in the 1988 draft never made it past AA ball. Well then why are you mentioning him? Good question, take a look at the card. For some reason, Topps decided to release this (was Ed Lynch somehow involved?), and we were tortured with this national exposure. 10 year olds everywhere were talking in the schoolyard about the prized card. "I'm Ty Griffin!" was shouted during backyard games of 500. Such a frenzy even existed nationally, where people were actually wondering if we would move Sandberg back to third base once Ty broke in with the big league club! Little did we know that in a short period of time, we would be treated to a text book case of Cubbie Blue Balls.

What the hell?: Ty was one of the big factors in Team USA's Gold Medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. This came on the heels of his heroic performance in the 1987 Pan Am Games where he hit a 2-out game winning home run in the bottom of the 9th inning, handing Cuba its first international loss since 1967. His career numbers for the National Team were outstanding, hitting .416 with 16 homers and 52 RBI, and adding 21 steals. His plus-.400 average was good enough to outdo his teammates (and future Major Leaguers) Tino Martinez, Scott Servais, and Mickey Morandini. During his collegiate career at Georgia Tech, he was just as impressive, earning numerous All-American honors and splitting The Baseball America Summer Baseball Player of the Year Award with Robin Ventura.

In his professional career, things started out strong. He debuted in A ball with The Peoria Chiefs, where he put up solid numbers of .287 with 10 home runs, 64 RBI (Midwest League Leader), 16 steals, 45 runs, 6 triples, 15 doubles, and 49 walks. This impressive start got him promoted to AA Charlotte Knights, where his numbers fell. Still, Baseball America ranked him as the #2 prospect in all of baseball. It would be the high point for Ty Griffin's baseball career. In his second season he posted numbers of .217 and .209 between Winston-Salem and Charlotte. His fielding percentage was a Little League-like .833 and he was moved to the outfield. The following season showed some progress, where he managed a .242 average, but teams no longer saw anything that got them excited. What was that about moving Sandberg to third? By 1992 he was out of baseball.

Also of Note: Elected to the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame in 1994. Holds ACC record for career steals with 127. Made an ill-fated comeback in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, where he hit .274 in AA during the 1995 season. His last season, 1996, was spent in the Independent League, and we all collectively built a funeral pyre with Griffin's baseball cards and danced around like mad Injuns. He was an industrial engineer major at Tech, so hopefully he used that to fall back on.