The Orange County Register of October 17, 1986, said this about Grich retiring:
He said he’d made up his mind about retiring two months ago, but, always, it seemed, he left an opening, a crack in the door.
Had he played well against Boston, had he performed up to his old standards and the Angels had breezed into the World Series, perhaps he might have reconsidered.
Instead, when he looked back, when he reviewed his own personal playoff diary, he could remember the dramatic winning hit in Game 4 and the tip-in home run off the glove of Dave Henderson the next fateful day.
In between, though, there were the other memories. In Game 2, he misplayed Dwight Evans’ popup to give Boston the winning run and was cut down trying to score from second base when third-base coach Moose Stubing failed to give him a sign.
In Game 4, he struck out three times and committed an error. In Game 5, there were two more strikeouts.
Forced to play first base again in place of the ailing Wally Joyner, Bobby took a cutoff throw in Game 6, whirled and fired to catch the runner rounding the bag too far at first. It was a good throw. It just so happened no one was there to field it.
The error broke open the game, turning a 4-2 game to 6-2.
And, finally, in Game 7, he went 0 for 2, finishing the ALCS with a .208 average and eight strikeouts in 24 at-bats.
Not that Bobby should be singled out as the Angels’ only guilty party. Reggie had a terrible series at the plate. DeCinces failed repeatedly in the clutch. Donnie Moore and Kirk McCaskill both suffered through some demeaning moments on the mound.
It is just that Grich, by announcing his retirement, by talking freely about his status, became the unexpected spokesman for what members of the Eastern media had begun to call the “Last Chance Gang.”
Grich’s love-hate admission after Game 6 seemed particularly poignant, considering the circumstances.
“This is bizarre,” Bobby said. “The way things are going, one day I love baseball, the next day I hate it. Right now, I’m hating it.
“Baseball is a very competitive, time-consuming profession. When you’re playing it … you have to give it your full attention, your full concentration.
“I was finding that harder and harder to do. I was getting tired of pushing myself. There are too many other things I wanted to do.
”I’ve had a great career. This is a bitter ending to a great career. I was getting tired of baseball. It’s a time-consuming, all-consuming profession. You can’t do anything for seven months but play baseball. I got tired of doing that after 19 years.”
Grich added: “Tonight’s game was my last. I have decided to retire, and that’s definite. It’s something of a bitter ending, but I feel that I’ve had an outstanding career. It would have been nice to have the icing on the cake, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Of the decision to retire: “I made it about two months ago, but I left the door open in case I felt good about myself physically and professionally, but I didn’t play that great the last 35 games and I didn’t play that well in the playoffs. Tonight it was as if I was overmatched by (Roger) Clemens.
“I had no chance against him. It was as if he was throwing 130 miles per hour.
“I’ve ate, slept and drank baseball for 19 years now and I’m tired of the push. It’s strenuous and time consuming. There’s nothing else you can do for seven months of the year and I’ve got a thousand things I want to do.
“I’m proud of my career and ready to move on. I’m looking forward to it.”
And of the terrible ending to the Angels’ hopes for the World Series: “It’s uncanny the things that have happened. I really feel sorry for Gene Mauch. He’s an intense, hard-driving manager who gets more out of his players than any manager I’ve ever played for.”