Heinie Groh

Heinie GrohHeinie Groh is best remembered for using a strange bat, which was called a “bottle bat” by a teammate. The use of the bat was a necessity. As a young player, Groh had great difficulty hitting the curveball and he figured he needed as much hitting surface as possible on a bat. He found a 48-ounce bat and cut off some of the handle, until there was only about six inches of handle left and the stick weighed 41 ounces. In using the bat, Groh utilized a method popular in the Deadball Era – he placed his top (right hand) up several inches on the barrell, and left his bottom (left hand) on the handle. When the pitch was delivered, Groh would adjust the position of his top hand accordingly. He also explained that he stood as far up in the batters’ box as he could, so he could get to the breaking ball for it broke.

It must have worked, because Groh was one of the better hitters in the National League from 1913-1921. In 1917 he led the league in hits, doubles, and on-base percentage. He always had good pitch recognition, posting an on-base percentage over .370 eight times.

  • Groh hit .474 in the 1922 World Series for the Giants, helping them defeat the New York Yankees. After his career, Groh asked and received a license plate with the numbers 474 in Ohio and later New York.
  • Served as a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1940s, canvassing the Ohio territory.