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Where have you gone Bobby Grich?
04/28/2002 1:55 PM ET
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Angels fans wondering where to find the gritty former All-Star second baseman of the team's glory years need not look too far.

Robert Anthony Grich, now 53, is a busy guy these days, but he's still a Long Beach boy and an Angel at heart.

Bobby Grich, whom Angels fans saw as a 6-foot-2, 190-pound warrior with dirt seemingly permanently encrusted into the uniform with the No. 4 on it, has mellowed a bit and nestled comfortably into a suburban existence.

He is a devoted husband, father and coach of two children, an astute player of the stock market, a fine golfer, and an advisor to the team he'll always love.

He's also the guy whose unmistakable mustachioed mug is stamped on 10,000 bobblehead dolls given out at the Angels' home game April 27.

Grich, along with Brian Downing and Rod Carew, was used as a model for dolls to be handed out during the 2002 season in commemoration of the 20-year anniversary of the Angels' 93-win 1982 season and AL West divisional title.

Nowadays, however, Grich prefers to talk about this year's team, which gets him excited despite a slow start.

"I think we look good," Grich says from the dugout after a morning of clubhouse chatter with current Anaheim second baseman Adam Kennedy, whom Grich has advised since Spring Training.

"It's the strongest I've seen the pitching staff in a number of years. Five starters have proven experience at the Major League level. And I like the atmosphere around the team, the personalities, the leadership, and the great coaching staff."

They like him, too, and how could they not? Grich is a legend around these parts.

He always was a great athlete, earning a full scholarship to play quarterback at UCLA, only to skip college and go right into baseball.

He officially became a California Angel on November 24, 1976, returning home to Gene Autry's team after spending the first seven years of his career as a Baltimore Oriole.

Before retiring in 1986 after the Angels' heart-breaking, one-strike-from-the-World-Series loss to Boston in the AL Championship Series, Grich had played 10 years with the Halos.

He concluded his Angels career with a .269 average in 1,222 games, including 154 home runs and 557 RBIs. His .997 fielding percentage in 1985 established a Major League record for second basemen.

The best season of his career, unfortunately, was the 1981 strike-shortened campaign.

Grich recorded a career-high .304 batting average and tied for the AL home run title with 22. The feat made him the first second baseman to lead the league in home runs since Napoleon LaJoie of Philadelphia hit 14 in 1901.

"I remember him most as a real no-nonsense player, really aggressive with high energy and high emotion," says Tim Salmon, the Angels' all-time home run leader.

"You walk around the stadium and you see that classic picture of him after a home run, with his arm pumping, and that says it all. He was just a real gritty player."

Alfredo Griffin, the Angels' first-base coach and infield instructor who faced Grich many times as a Toronto Blue Jays shortstop, says Grich is as dedicated now when passing along advice to the current team, especially to Kennedy.

"He really knows how to play the game, and he's very patient and a really good teacher," Griffin says. "He had it all - a great glove, power, an all-around game, and the thing that's great is he'll bring something he picked up from his career and use it to help the players. He's a real good guy."

Kennedy agrees. Following a 2001 season in which the second baseman was platooned late in the year because of a slump at the plate and in the field, Grich worked with him in Spring Training. Kennedy responded, hitting over .400 in Arizona and winning the Opening Day job in Anaheim.

"It's great to be able to talk to people who have played, won and basically succeeded at everything," Kennedy says. "Everything Bobby's done, he's succeeded at. The way he got after it every day - he was one of the best on the Angels back then. So he had some suggestions and I was more than willing to listen to him."

"I worked with AK a lot on double plays," Grich says. "You know, working with (shortstop David) Eckstein on positioning, feeding the ball. And I worked with him on his swing. The big thing with Adam is the plane of his swing. I made suggestions. It wasn't any heavy-duty deal, just a few one-hour sessions, but his swing started to really come around. I was really excited for him."

But, of course, baseball isn't the only thing exciting to Grich these days. Golf really gets him going.

Grich holds a 1-handicap at the course on which he lives, Coto de Caza Golf Club, about 30 miles south of Anaheim. He's also a leader-board regular on the Celebrity Players Tour, which holds 11 events a year. His career earnings on the CPT top $100,000. He has three career holes-in-one, all accomplished within five months of each other, and a lifetime-best score of 65.

He also finds time to coach his 13-year-old stepson, Brandon, in Pony League baseball and his 7-year-old daughter, Brianna, in soccer.

"He's an amazing guy with the kids," says Angels TV broadcaster Steve Physioc, a Grich family friend whose own son, Kevin, has played Pony League ball with Brandon.

"He's not at all the intense guy he was on the field in that situation. He wants them to have fun and he wants them to come back to practice and enjoy baseball. He comes from a place of warmth and kindness. He's everything you'd want in a Little League coach."

And now back to that bobblehead doll -- just how accurate is the likeness?

"It's pretty good," says Zetta Grich, Bobby's wife of 10 years. "Although the eyes are a bit greener than his real eyes. But the thing I love about it is that I can ask it any question. I'll ask, 'Can I take the credit card today?' And he just nods over and over again and has that smile on his face the whole time."

Doug Miller covers the Angels for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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