Fort Myers, FLA. Grayson Greiner stood up. That’s it. That’s all he did. But that was enough.
When umpire Erich Bachus called out Tigers outfielder Jonathan Davis earlier this month for not being ready in time for a two-strike pitch, Davis stood briefly in disbelief at the call. Greiner, the Twins’ non-roster catcher, rose to his feet and waited.
And a meme was born.
A clip of the moment, taken from the Bally Sports North broadcast, was posted to Twitter the next morning by an account @CodifyBaseball, At 6-6, Grayson towers a full 10 inches over Davis, who is listed at 5-8, and video gives that disparity a Judge-and-Altuve feel, even a Shaq- End-maggy absurdity too. Davis’ helmet doesn’t even reach Greiner’s shoulders.
The original tweet went viral. It was retweeted over 900 times, and other sports accounts picked up on the video and posted it themselves. And in Fort Myers, “my phone just blew up,” Greiner said. “A friend of mine sent it to me and said it’s on [ESPN’s] game Center. I got a lot of messages, a lot of attention.”
The comic-book quality of Greiner’s towering presence is summed up so amusingly, especially since the caption: “There has never been a taller catcher in all of MLB history than Grayson Greiner of the Minnesota Twins. “
But here’s the shocking part. According to baseball-reference.comThis is literally true.
According to the website’s search engine, no player officially listed as 6-7 or higher has ever pitched an inning behind the plate, and only 6-6 players have done so. One, Anton Falch, caught five games in the Union Association in 1884, and the other was barely more experienced. Don Gill of the Red Sox caught 64 innings in 19 games for the Red Sox in 1959–61, and Pete Koegel caught 12 games for the Phillies in 1971–72, totaling 54 innings.
And then there’s the unique Greiner in MLB history.
“By age 8 or 9, I started catching and fell in love with it,” said Greiner, who has played 139 major league games behind the plate for the Tigers and Diamondbacks since 2018. “My dad always told me to keep doing it until someone tells you to. I’m 30 now and no one ever told me to stop catching, so I’ll keep doing it until I I can.”
He’ll probably do it in St. Paul this year, then Twins Sign Christian Vazquez with Ryan Jeffers handling catching duties, but Greiner is used to being the catcher-on-call. He has never played more than 58 MLB games in a season, in large part because, as the saying goes in baseball, he hits like a catcher. Greiner’s lifetime average is .201, and his OPS is only .583, a reason far greater than his height for his difficulty in landing a major league job.
Still, the Twins are amazed at the ability a big catcher can have to help pitchers working the top of the strike zone.
“His height can be a particular asset because if you’re like people you can almost have a hybrid stance [Bailey] Ober, someone who’s consistently at the top of the zone,” said Hank Conger, who coaches the Twins’ catchers. “He’s athletic, and has been very receptive to working with a right-knee-down stance, which Him below the zone as well.”
Greiner has some minor injuries to his hamstring and lower back, but his knee is “mostly” healthy, he said, a good sign for a catcher his age. He never suffered a concussion in the majors, although “I’ve taken hundreds of foul tips,” he said. And he’s never been a big hit at home plate, perhaps partly because baseball rules now ban them, but also because — well, he’s 6-6 and 240 pounds.
“I do what I can to stay athletic as I get older,” Greiner said. “I work on functional things a lot, being able to block pitches. I can get out of a crouch in a hurry to throw. I’m looking [his height] As an asset – I’ve had a lot of pitchers tell me they love a big target.”
Greiner’s locker in the Twins clubhouse is three away from Joe Mauer’s (now occupied by Vazquez), which suits the Twins.
“He was my hero growing up—a tall catcher who could hit,” Greiner said of the 6-5 Mauer. “That and Matt Witters. I was 6-5 my freshman year of high school when they were doing their thing. So I really watched them and watched them a lot.”
This is almost the only time Greiner ever sees anyone.