Where Are They Now? Ty Griffin
f anyone should be allowed to play the baseball game of “What if?” it is Ty Griffin, who in 1988 was a much-decorated, switch-hitting second baseman coming out of Georgia Tech when the Cubs made him the ninth overall pick in the draft.
Unfortunately for Griffin, the Cubs were all set at his position with Ryne Sandberg at the midway point of his Hall of Fame career. In selecting Griffin, the Cubs believed he had enough power to make the move to third base, so much so that they passed over selecting the best third baseman available in the draft.
With the next pick, the White Sox selected Oklahoma State’s Robin Ventura, who would play 16 seasons in the major leagues with the White Sox, Mets, Yankees and Dodgers.
Griffin’s career stalled at Double-A after five seasons of an unsuccessful attempt to play third base.
“I get a lot of questions: ‘Do you have any animosity? Do you have any regrets?’ ” Griffin says today. “I don’t have any regrets.
“I had a chance to play in a Little League World Series, to be drafted twice, to be drafted in the first round, go to a unique establishment like Georgia Tech, participate in the business world with a top 10 corporation and now be able to be a coach at the high school level.
“I’ve had everything, and more, that I could ask to get out of baseball.”
Griffin is in his seventh season as head baseball coach at Tampa Catholic High, where his teams annually compete for Florida state championships, and he twice has been named district coach of the year. For the past five years, he also has served as the school’s assistant dean of students.
Griffin first made a splash on the national baseball scene at Georgia Tech, where he was a career .332 hitter with 22 home runs and 127 stolen bases. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech sports hall of fame in 1994.
Griffin increased his profile by playing for Team USA in the 1987 Pan American Games and 1988 Olympics. Interestingly enough, Griffin and Ventura shared the Baseball America Summer Player of the Year award in 1987.
Then the Cubs made the fateful decision of selecting Griffin one pick ahead of Ventura. In 82 games at low Class A Peoria in the Midwest League in 1989, Griffin hit .287 with 10 home runs and 16 stolen bases. But the shift to third base did not go so well and resulted in 23 errors and bursitis in his throwing shoulder.
“That led to me changing my whole swing, with the bursitis that was in there,” Griffin says. “It took me probably another four to four-and-a-half years to reconstruct my whole swing and get it back to a rhythm of being the whole player that I was.”
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Griffin retired in 1997 after nine pro seasons, five in affiliated ball and four more in independent leagues. He then earned a business degree from South Florida. He worked for 10 years in senior management at Philip Morris USA before landing the coaching position at Tampa Catholic.
He and his wife, Dallas, live in Tampa with their daughters Austin and Houston.