Eli Grba, the Original Angel, dies at 84

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Eli Grba, the first player to throw a pitch for the Angels, died Monday night in Florence, Ala., after a three-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 84.

Grba, a bespectacled pitcher with a penchant for partying and a competitive spirit, was known as the Original Angel. With the opening selection of MLB’s first expansion draft in December 1960, Angels general manager Fred Haney made Grba the first addition to the Angels’ inaugural roster.

“I’m a trivia question until I die,” Grba said in a 2011 television interview. “I’m the first guy that’s ever been drafted — and the first Angel. You know, that’s kind of nice.”

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