Pat Griffin (Courtesy of Bill Lamb)

Pat Griffin

This article was written by Bill Lamb

Pat Griffin (Courtesy of Bill Lamb)On the way to a last-place finish, the 1914 Cincinnati Reds regularly auditioned marginal pitching prospects. Among these hopefuls was Pat Griffin, an inexperienced 21-year-old righthander plucked from a Northeast Ohio semipro team. Assigned ninth-inning relief duty in a lost-cause game against the defending NL champion New York Giants, recruit Griffin turned in a nightmarish debut performance. He retired only one of the six enemy batsmen whom he faced, allowing three runs to score in the process. But two tag-outs on the basepaths enabled the youngster to complete what turned out to be his one-inning major league career.

When next heard from, Griffin was back pitching for his semipro team. Apart from World War I military service in France, Pat spent the remainder of his days in his native Ohio, working, starting a family, and playing recreational baseball. Sadly, emphysema complications brought that life to a premature close at age 34. His story follows.

Patrick Richard Griffin was born on May 6, 1893 in Niles, Ohio, a small industrial city located near the Pennsylvania border that was soon to gain notoriety as the birthplace of President William McKinley. Pat was the oldest of five children born to Irish Catholic immigrant Richard Griffin (1865-1946) and his Ohio-born wife Anna (nee McGurk, 1871-1937).1 The wage that Richard earned as a skilled sheet metal worker allowed him to raise his tight-knit, religiously devout family in the comfort of a spacious five-bedroom home.2 The children also received the benefit of schooling beyond the eighth-grade education then the norm for the offspring of an immigrant. The young Griffins attended the parish (St. Stephen) grammar school before matriculating to Niles High School.3 And as they were growing up, the athletic and scholastic achievements of the precocious Griffin brood were regularly chronicled in the Niles Daily Times.4

The first discovered newsprint mention of Pat Griffin has him and younger brother Dan playing for the Robbins Avenue nine, a Niles sandlot baseball team in 1909.5 Eventually topping out at a good-sized 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Pat was a fullback and defensive end on the Niles High football team and returned a blocked punt for a 55-yard touchdown in a 10-0 victory over Kent in October 1910.6 But his real forte was baseball. With Dan Griffin serving as his backstop, Pat became the ace of the Niles High staff. Notable performances included a 14-strikeout, 7-2 triumph over Warren HS in which he also hit a home run.7

Following his high school graduation in May 1911,8 Griffin secured a job in the clerical department of the Brier Hill Steel Company of nearby Youngstown. He also became the pitcher for the company’s baseball team. But it was Griffin’s hurling for the semipro Girard (Ohio) Independents that caught the eye of pro scouts. In early June 1914, the always-supportive Niles Daily Times reported that arrangements had been made for him to try out with the Cleveland Naps of the American League.9 “Baseball has been a life long study of genial Pat,” the newspaper observed, adding that “Niles people take special interest in the ever-popular Pat Griffin and it is the hope of all that he will become a shining star in the big league firmament.”10

The absence of follow-up reportage suggests that the Cleveland tryout never took place, but soon thereafter interest from other quarters was reported. The National League Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn’s Federal League club were competing for Griffin’s services, with the former prevailing.11 Signed by Reds scout Tom O’Hara, by mid-July Griffin was “on his way to the Queen City where he is expected to put Niles on the map as home of one of the great baseball stars,” gushed the Daily Times. “Pat is a hard worker and a steady plugger. … His clean moral life will always be in his favor and Niles is not likely to feel anything but pride in him.”12

Griffin was joining a Cincinnati team that had been contending for the pennant as late as mid-June but was now rapidly headed in the wrong direction. Before the start of the July 23 finale of a homestand, the Reds had lost six-straight and 10 of their previous 14 games, leaving playing manager Buck Herzog desperate for new talent to infuse some life into his club. So with the Reds again playing lousy behind starter Earl Yingling and trailing the Giants 10-4 after eight innings, Herzog decided to give newcomer Griffin a look. At the same time, Herzog installed Fritz Von Kolnitz at catcher. A 21-year-old rookie like Griffin, Von Kolnitz was a first baseman, third baseman, and outfielder by trade. His previous catching experience consisted of precisely one inning, the final frame of the previous day’s game against the Giants.

Presumably nervous, Pat promptly yielded a single to inning leadoff batter Art Fletcher – but then redeemed himself by picking Fletcher off first. A walk, a stolen base, and a throwing error by catcher Von Kolnitz placed Fred Merkle on third, and a single by Larry McLean drove in the Giants eleventh run of the contest. After McLean stole second, Griffin walked Milt Stock. He then induced Red Murray to hit a foul pop-up but Von Kolnitz dropped it for his second error of the inning. Given another life, Murray drilled an extra-base drive to left, providing the Giants with two unearned runs. But Murray’s erasure at the plate gave the Giants their second out,13 and Griffin finished the frame by turning a comebacker struck by Bob Bescher into the third.14 Today, our subject’s major league record book entry thus reads: six batters faced; three hits and two walks surrendered; three runs allowed but only one earned, in one inning pitched.

The following day, the Griffin performance received only passing note in press coverage of the game’s carnage. Hometown sportswriter Jack Ryder blandly observed that “Griffin, the semipro from upstate, worked the last round and was also hit hard, besides being wild,”15 while a wire service report stated that “Griffin, a local recruit … also was batted hard.”16 The baseball weeklies also were not overly hard on the youngster. In his Sporting News column, Bill Phelon informed readers that “new pitchers are slipping into camp so frequently that there were all kinds of strange young faces on the train when the team went East. … Griffin, a semipro from Niles, O., … was taken East although he modestly pleaded that he didn’t feel, as yet, experienced enough for the big show. He was sent in during the awful burlesque that ended the Giants series – rather hard times for a kid pitcher to be chucked in when the game has become a farce comedy.”17 Sporting Life correspondent Ren Mulford, Jr., expressed similar sentiments about the Reds play but without particular sympathy for Griffin, stating that Cincinnati “also picked up a tall, raw-boned kid of a twirler named Griffin. He hails from Niles, the birthplace of McKinley. Herzie put him in the last inning of the New York rouse-mit-‘em finale. The Giants pounded the tar out of him and aided by a couple of miscues by Count Von Kolnitz, the New Yorkers added three more runs to their plentiful stock.”18

Having only pitched one inning, Griffin was not among the Reds players released in the immediate aftermath of the Giants series debacle.19 But Griffin never made a second game appearance for Cincinnati, and by mid-August he was back in Northeast Ohio pitching for the Girard Independents, his brief encounter with major league baseball behind him. Griffin returned to the Girard club for the 1915 season,20 and on July 4 was honored with “Pat Griffin Day” at the home grounds.21 In 1916 he resumed pitching for the Brier Hill company team which then included younger brother Jim Griffin at first base. By that point Pat had risen to the position of service department manager at Brier Hill.22 He finished the year convalescing at home after spending several weeks in the hospital following an appendectomy.23 But Pat recovered in time to join Jim playing for the East End Athletic Club nine in 1917.

All three Griffin brothers heeded the call to World War I military service in 1918. Sadly, Jim Griffin, a naval reservist, contracted pneumonia while training at Great Lakes Naval Station and passed away at age 21.24 Meanwhile, Pat and Dan Griffin enlisted in the US Army and eventually served in France as part of the American Expeditionary Force. A member of the 315th Infantry Brigade, Pat saw front-line duty and was “slightly wounded in action” during the epic battle of Saint-Michel in late September.25 Following the cessation of hostilities six weeks later, Sgt. Patrick Griffin remained stationed overseas until honorably discharged on April 5, 1919.26

Upon returning home, Pat resumed his pre-war routine. He lived with his parents at the Griffin residence in Niles; worked in the offices of the Brier Hill steel plant in Youngstown, and played weekend baseball (now with brother Dan) on the East End AC team. Sometime in the early 1920s, Pat took a bride, marrying Youngstown school teacher Alma Latteau. In time, the couple had two daughters, Patricia (born 1924) and Alma Jeanette (1926).

Griffin did not get to enjoy life with his new family for very long. Suffering from emphysema, he was hospitalized by the onset of pneumonia in early June 1927. His condition continued its decline until he died at Youngstown City Hospital on the morning of June 7. The cause of death was officially listed as acute lobar pneumonia as a result of emphysema.27 Patrick Richard Griffin was 34. Following funeral services, his remains were interred in Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown. In addition to his wife and young daughters, the deceased was survived by his parents, brother Dan, and sisters Gertrude Siefert and Mary Waid.

A final word on Pat Griffin. Flunking a major league tryout is not evidence of flawed character. Whatever his shortcomings as a pitcher, Griffin’s abbreviated life was an honorable one, of benefit to family, friends, fellow citizens, and to his country. It is, of course, regrettable that he did not live to see his daughters grow up, but had he survived to the age his eldest child reached, Pat Griffin would have basked in the company of three grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.28 All in all, not a bad legacy.



This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and Rick Zucker and fact-checked by Jeff Findley.



Sources for the biographical information imparted above include the Pat Griffin file at the Giamatti Research Center, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, New York; US Census and Ohio military records accessed via; and certain of the newspaper articles cited in the endnotes, particularly the reportage of Griffin’s hometown newspaper, the Niles Daily Times. The account of Griffin’s pitching in the July 23, 1914 Giants-Reds game has been taken from the play-by-play published by Retrosheet.



1 Pat’s younger siblings were Daniel (born 1895), James (1896), Gertrude (1899), and Mary (1906).

2 As of 2023, the Griffin residence at 113 Washington Avenue still stands and recently sold for $220,000, according to the real estate site Zillow.

3 Dan Griffin went on to Ohio State University while Gertrude graduated from normal school (teachers’ college).

4 Local news appeared in a column bizarrely captioned Billiken’s Bubbling Babblings.

5 “South Side-Robbins Avenue,” Niles (Ohio) Daily Times, June 14, 1909: 1. Pat pitched and played shortstop while Dan patrolled left field during a 19-inning loss to South Side, 9-7.

6 “Niles Wins,” Niles Daily Times, October 11, 1910: 3.

7 “High School Keeps It Up; Warren Loses,” Niles Daily Times, May 18, 1911: 1. Griffin was a righthanded batter.

8 Patrick Griffin is among the Niles High School graduates listed in “Commencement Exercises Tonight,” Niles Daily Times, May 19, 1911: 1.

9 “Local Player May Join Naps,” Niles Daily Times, June 1, 1914: 8.

10 “Local Player May Join Naps,” above.

11 “Pat Griffin with Cinn. Nationals,” Niles Daily Times, July 21, 1914: 1.

12 “Pat Griffin with Cinn. Nationals,” above.

13 According to one game observer, the Giants ended the ninth by getting out on purpose “as they were tired of running around the bases in the hot sun.” Jack Ryder, “Sadness,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 24, 1914: 8.

14 Crafted from the game play-by-play published by Retrosheet.

15 Jack Ryder, “Sadness,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 24, 1914: 8.

16 “Giants Win Easy Victory in Cincinnati,” Boston Globe, July 24, 1914: 5; “Giants Hammer Red Boxmen, Win Fourth Straight,” Salt Lake Herald-Republican, July 24, 1914: 16.

17 W.A. Phelon, “Reds Still Able to Answer the Call,” The Sporting News, July 30, 1914: 2.

18 Ren Mulford, Jr., “A Red-Fan Diagnosis,” Sporting Life, August 1, 1914: 7.

19 Those released included second baseman Johnny Rawlings, outfielders Maury Uhler and Howard Lohr, and pitcher Jack Rowan.

20 “Baseball Season Opens in Girard Next Sunday,” Niles Daily Times, April 15, 1915: 3.

21 “Pat Griffin Day in Morris Field,” Niles Daily Times, June 29, 1915: 3.

22 Per Patrick Griffin’s World War I draft registration card.

23 “Local News at a Glance,” Niles Daily Times, November 21, 1916: 8.

24 James Lawrence Griffin died on September 26, 1918, some two months short of his 22nd birthday.

25 Per State of Ohio military records accessed via

26 State of Ohio military records, above.

27 Per the death certificate contained in the Pat Griffin file at the Giamatti Research Center.

28 As calculated from the obituary of daughter Patricia Griffin Moulis who died at age 96 in 2020.

Full Name

Patrick Richard Griffin


May 6, 1893 at Niles, OH (USA)


June 7, 1927 at Youngstown, OH (USA)

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