Born: Aug 1, 1952
A fourth-round pick of the Astros in 1970, the lefthanded-hitting Gross was a solid contact hitter with little power who made his 17-year career last mostly from being a dependable pinch-hitter off the bench. Although his career began and ended in Houston, his most notable hit may have come against them in a critical Astros loss.
In his rookie season, the 21-year-old outfielder batted .314 in 1974 but with no homers in 156 games. His playing time diminshed each season and he was traded after the 1976 campaign to the Cubs for infielder Julio Gonzalez. After two seasons in Chicago, Gross went to Philadelphia where he played for ten seasons and went to two World Series.
In the 1980 National League Championship Series, Gross came up in the top of the eighth inning in the decisive Game 5. Trailing 5-2, Larry Bowa and Bob Boone opened the frame with singles off Nolan Ryan. Gross dropped a surpise bunt and beat it out to load the bases. That began a five-run uprising that led to an 8-7 Phillies win that denied Houston a trip to the World Series.
Gross signed again with the Astros for the 1989 season and hit .200 in 60 games. During his two stints with Houston, he totaled a .293 average with no homers in 490 games. For his career, he batted .287 with seven homers and 308 RBIs.
As a footnote, the Pennsylvanian entered games as a pitcher twice. He worked 2/3rds of an inning for the Phillies in 1986 and a full inning in 1989 as an Astro, giving up two runs in a mop-up role.