When the game's on the line, this guy is really something.
- Sparky Anderson
Acquired from the Cardinals along with Bobby Tolan in the blockbuster trade that sent Vada Pinson to St. Louis in October of 1968, Wayne Granger blossomed into one of the great relief pitchers of the period as the Reds fielded the first incarnation of the fabled "Big Red Machine" club that would dominate the decade of the 1970s.
A gangly right-hander, Granger was installed as the Reds closer in 1969, the first year that the save became an official statistic in the Major Leagues. Granger was an immediate success in the role, finishing second in the league in saves with 27 and setting a then-National League record (still a club record) by appearing in 90 games en route to being named The Sporting News National League Fireman of the Year.
During the Reds' pennant-winning season of 1970, Granger had the distinction of being credited with the last victory and throwing the final pitch in the last game played at venerable Crosley Field, the Reds' home ballpark since 1912. The '70 Reds lived up to the "Big Red Machine" nickname that had been coined the year before, winning 70 of their first 100 games and christening their new home, Riverfront Stadium, with the first division title in franchise history. Granger was instrumental to the Reds' success, once again, setting a record (since broken) with 35 saves and once again won The Sporting News's award as the league's top reliever.
The Reds run of success was halted in the World Series as the club fell to the Brooks Robinson-led Baltimore Orioles in five games. In the Series' third game, Granger earned a measure of unfortunate notoriety by surrendering the first grand slam to a pitcher in World Series play when Baltimore's Dave McNally hit a bases loaded home run off of him in the sixth inning.
The Reds slumped in 1971, posting their only losing record of the decade. Granger shared closing duties with the newly-acquired Clay Carroll and Joe Gibbon but still led the league in games pitched and recorded 100 innings pitched for the second and final time in his career. With Carroll in the fold, the Reds traded Granger to the Twins after the 1971 season. Granger pitched for four other clubs before retiring after the 1976 season. He was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1982, the second relief pitcher to be so honored.