By Zane Miller
In the 42-season long history of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the team has gone 4 for 9 in championship finals appearances, to go along with making 14 postseason appearances in total. As of this writing, Greensboro’s best regular season record came in 1981 at 98-43, while their worst came in 2004 at 50-89. These are the top five single seasons by starting pitchers that I felt have stood out the most during the team history of the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
In total, the team has won four championships, coming in 1980, 1981, 1982 and 2011. The team was previously known as the Greensboro Hornets from 1979 to 1993 before changing to the Greensboro Bats from 1994 through the 2004 season.
5. Logan Easley (1983)
The 519th overall pick of the 1981 draft by the New York Yankees claimed a 14-8 record with the Hornets in 1983, allowing 12 home runs, 71 earned runs and 157 hits in 158 and a third innings pitched for a 4.04 ERA. Greensboro finished the year at 73-71, missing the 1983 playoffs. Easley would make his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1987, playing in the MLB until the 1989 season.
4. Kelly Scott (1981)
After being signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 1980, Scott went 16-6 during the 1981 season with the Hornets, pitching 169 innings with 16 home runs, 56 earned runs and 136 hits to take a 2.98 ERA. Greensboro took their best regular season record as of this writing at 98-43 to make the 1981 playoffs, defeating the Greenwood Pirates three games to two in the finals to earn back-to-back championships.
3. Keith Garagozzo (1992)
The 230th overall pick of the 1991 draft by the Yankees scored a 14-8 record with the Hornets in 1992, giving up 15 home runs, 55 earned runs and 153 hits in 174 innings, taking a 2.84 ERA. Greensboro finished at 74-67, although they would be unable to qualify for the 1992 playoffs. Garagozzo would make his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins in his lone MLB season in 1994.
2. Dave Szymczak (1982)
After also being signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 1980, Szymczak claimed a 14-2 record with the Hornets in 1982, as he allowed just nine home runs, 62 earned runs and 174 hits in 175 innings pitched for a 3.19 ERA. Greensboro took a 96-45 record to easily reach the 1982 playoffs, defeating the Florence Blue Jays three games to two in the finals to three-peat as champions.
1. Byron Ballard (1980)
The 11th overall pick of the secondary phase of the 1977 draft by the Yankees picked up a 17-6 showing with the Hornets in 1980, pitching 192 innings while allowing 14 home runs, 67 earned runs and 167 hits for a 3.14 ERA. Greensboro went 82-57 to qualify for the 1980 playoffs, taking down the Gastonia Cardinals two games to one in the first round, before sweeping the Charleston Royals three games to none in the finals to win their first championship in franchise history.
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