Jack Graney, the only major league player ever born in St. Thomas, Ont., will be added to the city’s Wall of Fame in a ceremony at the Timken Centre on Monday, July 14 at 2 p.m. E.T.
Graney, who passed away in 1978, will be honoured posthumously for his 14-year big league playing career and his more than two decades as a broadcaster with the Cleveland Indians. His daughter, Margot Graney Mudd, and granddaughter, Perry Mudd Smith, who reside in Florida, will be present at the ceremony.
The diamond legend will become the fourth person to be honoured on the St. Thomas Wall of Fame, joining community booster Al Riddell, standout fastball player Rick McCaw and big screen star Rachel McAdams.
Graney’s road to the big leagues began in his hometown where he was discovered and recommended to the Chicago Cubs by local baseball legend and fellow Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, Bob Emslie. After a season in the Cubs organization, Graney was sold to the Indians, where he would evolve into a steady, dependable outfielder.
His big league resume boasts a number of firsts. When Graney walked to the plate in a game against the Boston Red Sox on July 11, 1914, he became the first batter to face Babe Ruth. Almost two years later, on June 26, 1916, he would be the first major leaguer to bat wearing a number on his uniform. A scrappy leadoff hitter, Graney led the American League in walks twice (1917 and 1919) and doubles once (1916). The speedy Canuck also finished in the top 10 in triples in 1913 and 1916, with 12 and 14 three-baggers respectively. He was also a member of the World Series-winning Indians squad in 1920.
After his playing career, Graney became the first ex-player to make the transition to the broadcast booth, performing radio play-by-play for the Indians from 1932 to 1953. When the Indians won their second World Series in 1948, Graney was awarded another World Series ring, making him the only member of the organization to own two World Series rings. For his efforts, Graney was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984 in a ceremony in Montreal in which his daughter, Margot, threw out the first pitch to Expos catcher Gary Carter.
In 1987, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame created an award named in his honour that’s presented annually (in recent years) to a media member who has made significant contributions to the game of baseball in Canada through their life’s work.
The addition of Graney’s plaque to the St. Thomas Wall of Fame can be credited largely to the efforts of the “Graney Gang” – an informal group of local historians and sports enthusiasts that includes Bill Rayner, Don Cosens, Steve Peters, Lesley Buchanan and Wayne McAteer who have tirelessly touted Graney’s accomplishments over the years.
“We feel there’s a great need to elevate Jack’s profile, and his life and times in St. Thomas,” Rayner told the St. Thomas Times Journal last month.