Grayson Greiner makes major-league debut with Detroit Tigers
Former South Carolina catcher Grayson Greiner is now in his second season as a Major League Baseball player with the Detroit Tigers. His salary of more than $550,000 is plenty comfortable.
While in one offseason as a minor leaguer a couple of years ago, Greiner took a job that he did not plan on having: driving for Uber back home in Columbia.
“I found out my wife was pregnant,” Greiner said. “In the minor leagues, you don’t make a whole lot of money, so I was trying to think of a way to make a few extra bucks.”
Uber driving can sometimes come with wild experiences, but Greiner’s were relatively straightforward.
“You hear some funny stuff,” Greiner said. “I would work some late nights and pick up college kids that were a little inebriated, but I never had anything too crazy happen.”
Greiner was also surprised at the small amount of money he made as a driver.
“I thought you’d make a little bit more money than you do,” Greiner said. “You really have to put a lot of time in to make a decent amount of money, so I did it for a few months that offseason and then realized it wasn’t as profitable as I hoped.”
Driving in the Columbia area, it was given that Greiner would interact with Gamecock fans who were surprised to see him.
“A lot of them asked me what I was doing,” Greiner said.
Greiner remembered picking up a man at the Columbia airport who recognized his name on the Uber app.
But he didn’t put it all together.
“He said, ‘One of my favorite players at Carolina has the same name as you’,” Greiner said the man told him. “I told him that it was me, and then we talked about baseball for a little while. I never really said anything unless anyone recognized me, but it was cool to have some people recognize me.”
Another Columbia native and baseball fan, David Tarr, said he was one of Greiner’s customers.
“I’ve always followed Carolina baseball and knew who he was,” Tarr said. “It took me about two minutes to realize it was Grayson Greiner. ... It impressed me that someone that close to being a big name in baseball was doing what it took to make money. I know minor leaguers aren’t rich.”
A couple of seasons later, the Blythewood High School alum finds himself living out his dream as a major leaguer. He has five home runs and 26 RBIs in his young career and posted a .328 on-base percentage in 30 games his rookie season.
“I’ve got a great group of teammates and a great coaching staff,” Greiner said. “It’s a grind mentally every day. That’s the biggest adjustment, how hard it can be mentally trying to figure out the big leagues. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and will never take it for granted.”
Playing with the Gamecocks in the SEC was a huge part of Greiner’s route to Detroit.
Greiner was a freshman starting catcher on South Carolina’s 2012 College World Series team. He had 18 home runs and 120 RBIs in his college career and was a third-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.
“In the big leagues, you play against a lot of guys that you competed against in college because the SEC is probably the best conference in college baseball,” Greiner said. “I can’t thank my teammates and coaches at South Carolina enough for teaching me how to play the game the right way.”
Greiner made his return to the Southeast a couple of weeks ago for the Tigers’ three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park. He had two home runs and three RBIs in the series for the Tigers.
“I got a really warm reception from a lot of people I’ve never met who were Gamecocks and Braves fans,” Greiner said. “I had a lot of family and friends come over to Atlanta to watch me play. The first pitch I saw against the team I grew up watching, I hit a home run. That was a cool trip around the bases.”
Greiner lives in Columbia during the offseason with his family and still attends South Carolina athletic events.
“It’s where I’ve lived my whole life, and I don’t plan on stopping that any time soon,” Greiner said. “It’s cool being able to go back home in the offseason for four or five months and go to a lot of Gamecock sporting events and support those guys as much as I can.”