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OC Register: Eli Grba, the original Angel, dies at 84


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Eli Grba, who threw the first pitch in Angels franchise history and later wrote a book about his battle with alcoholism, died on Monday in Florence, Ala., after a three-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 84.

Grba spent five years in the majors, with the New York Yankees and Angels. He started the Angels’ first game, on April 11, 1961, and he pitched a complete game to beat the Baltimore Orioles.

Grba had been the Angels’ first selection in the expansion draft in 1960.

During three seasons with the Angels, Grba was 20-24 with a 4.40 ERA. He compiled a 28-33 career record and 4.48 ERA in 135 games over five major-league seasons.

Later in life, he struggled with alcoholism, a battle he described in a book: “Baseball’s Fallen Angel: A major leaguer’s life story of high expectations, hidden pitfalls and his ongoing fight in recovery.”

Grba threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the 2011 season in celebration of the Angels’ 50th anniversary.

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