John T. Groth
July 23, 1926 – August 7, 2021
PALM BEACH - John T Groth died on August 7, 2021 at his oceanfront condominium in Palm Beach Florida that he shared with his wife of 72 years, Betty Stoll Groth. He was 95 years old. One of three children, born July 23, 1926 to German immigrants, Johnny grew up a couple blocks from Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. He and other athletic neighborhood kids played exhibition football games during halftime at Chicago Bears NFL games, which were played at Wrigley Field. His natural athletic talent was recognized by a former All American who provided Groth a scholarship to the prestigious Chicago Latin School. As the football team quarterback, Johnny led the Latin School to win the Illinois Prep School Title game. Upon graduation from the Latin School, Johnny was offered many college scholarships, including offers from Notre Dame, Yale and all of the Big 9 (now Big 10) teams to play football or basketball. Several MLB teams also drafted him. But in 1944 our nation was at war, and 18 year old Johnny Groth was eligible for the draft, so he enlisted in the US Navy. To improve morale of the recruits, the Navy held many athletic events; the most popular of which was baseball. Groth’s athletic prowess caught the eye of MLB Pitcher Bob Feller, who was in charge of Navy baseball operations. He joined the squad that included MLB greats Pinky Higgins, Walter Cooper and Ken Keltner among others. Groth was chosen for the team despite being the only non-MLB player. He had a .341 batting average that season while in the Navy and attracted baseball scouts from several MLB teams. Johnny spent many hours under the tutelage of Bob Feller who taught him the fi ner points of major league baseball. Feller’s mentoring helped Groth become a career MLB player. After he was discharged from the service, Groth received offers from several MLB teams, the best of which came from the Cleveland Indians (n/k/a Guardians) and the Detroit Tigers. Late in the 1946 MLB season, Johnny signed a deal with Walter O Briggs, owner of the Detroit Tigers. Groth began his 15 year Major League Baseball career with the Tigers. He played for the Tigers AAA International League team where he excelled. In 1992, Groth was inducted into the Buffalo Bison AAA Baseball Hall Of Fame. Once in the big leagues, Groth was the Tiger’s center fi elder. The 1950 Detroit Tigers made a run for the AL pennant, fi nishing just a few games behind the 1st place NY Yankees. It was the best year for Johnny as an MLB player. He started all 159 games that year, hit .306, scored 95 Runs and hit 85 RBI’s; striking out only two times. Traded to the St Louis Browns in a 7 player deal in 1952, he went on to play for the Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators, Kansas City Athletics and then back with the Detroit Tigers, retiring in 1960. After retirement from Major League Baseball, Groth managed the Detroit Tigers single A farm club team in Decatur Illinois for two seasons. Milwaukee Braves team owner Bill Bartholomay relocated the Braves to Atlanta Georgia in 1966. John Groth was hired by the Atlanta Braves and spent several decades as a Braves MLB scout. Among the amateur players he discovered and recruited was Mickey Rivers out of Dade Community College, who went on to play centerfi eld for the Braves, Rangers and Yankees over a 14 year MLB career. During his baseball career, Johnny played on teams that included Tommy Lasorda, Billy Martin and Minnie Minoso, among many others. He hit 2 homers over the green monster at Fenway Park. Groth’s career stats include a lifetime batting avg of .279 and a fi elding avg of .987. In 1960, Johnny’s wife Betty bought a big house on the ocean block of Queens Lane in the north end of Palm Beach, where she raised her 9 girls and 2 boys. John Groth is remembered by his children growing up with regular one man band performances, family sing-alongs, daily Jack La Lane exercises and his Mustang convertibles. He was a member of St Edward parish and the Sailfish Club of Florida. He is survived by his family: wife Betty Stoll Groth, and 11 children: Betty Ann Dortch; Susan Neilson (Kim d. 2019); Peggy Rafferty (Michael); Ginger Carlisle (Allan); Janet Geary (Frank); Winnie Azqueta (Jesse); Kathy Bronstien (Jim); John T. Groth, Jr (Sue); Nancy Tucker (Alan); Mary Jacobs (Scott) and Michael Groth (Gretchen). Extended family includes 29 grandchildren (Dorian, Barney, Michelle, John, Patrick, Allan, Kayleigh, Byrne, Emily, Jesse, Christopher, Maryena, Dana, Amy, Jodi, Spencer, Sierra, Sydney, Stanley, Michael, Becca, Jake, Theresa, Scottie, Jennifer, Liam, Delaney, Bailey, John Jameson) and 9 great grandchildren (Jason, Caroline, Cameron, Harper, Holden, Ollie, Trip, Gabi and Beau.) The family thanks Maggie Eveque, Nicole Hilaire, December Rodriguez and Vickie La Guerre for the kind care they provided to Mr Groth, especially over the last year. There will be a private family service. In lieu of fl owers the family asks to send donations to: Phipps Park Baseball P.O.6336 West Palm Beach Fl 33405 firstname.lastname@example.org
He is survived by his wife of 72 years,Betty Stoll Groth, and
Betty Ann Dortch;
Susan Neilson (Kim d. 2019);
Peggy Rafferty (Michael);
Ginger Carlisle (Allan);
Janet Geary (Frank);
Winnie Azqueta (Jesse);
Kathy Bronstien (Jim);
John T. Groth, Jr (Sue);
Nancy Tucker (Alan);
Mary Jacobs (Scott) and
Michael Groth (Gretchen).
Extended family includes 29 grandchildren:
Dorian, Barney, Michelle, John, Patrick, Allan, Kayleigh, Byrne, Emily, Jesse, Christopher, Maryena, Dana,
Amy, Jodi, Spencer, Sierra, Sydney, Stanley, Michael, Becca, Jake, Theresa,
Scottie, Jennifer, Liam, Delaney, Bailey, John Jameson and
9 great grandchildren:
Jason, Caroline, Cameron, Harper, Holden, Ollie, Trip, Gabi and
John T. Groth
August 26, 2021
My memories of Johnny Groth go back to my early years of boyhood at the Latin School, then "Boys Latin". Sports was my whole life then, baseball & football at the Latin field along the north branch of the Chicago River, basketball at the Dearborn Street gym. And Johnny was always there helping, coaching, working out. Leading the j.v. to regular wins over the varsity teams. He gave me my very first real ball glove, a Rawlings Johnny Groth signature model, well worn, the one that he had used that entire season in Detroit, and which I used all through college and for many years after. Johnny was a gifted athlete and left us in awe of his skills, coordination and agility. But more, he was a gifted person, father, husband, and a genuine unpretentious and humble man. His records at Latin still stand unsurpassed today, and speak for themselves, but his record as a person and dad will live on always. Thanks, Johnny, for your friendship. We will miss you, but do not worry, the memories linger. Peter Burrows, Annapolis, Maryland. Latin 1956.
August 13, 2021
To the Groth Family,
To this day, I still have a how to play better little league ball book. The section on better outfield play was written by your Dad and Husband. I also have his 1956 Topps Baseball card.
Though you have my sincere condolences, you also have my sincere joy for a life very well lived.
August 13, 2021
The Meyerowich Family send our sincere condolences This beautiful family is Mr Groth’s legacy. Our love thoughts and prayers to each and everyone of you.
August 13, 2021
Mr. Groth was one of a kind, if he wasn't in the "den" watching baseball, you might catch him late at night singing by himself in the family room after a cocktail or two lol. Such a great part of my childhood, the Groth's doors were always open. RIP
August 13, 2021
Johnny Groth was a larger than life figure to me. I spent countless days and nights at the Groth home with my closest childhood friend, #7 (Kathy). Sometimes Johnny stayed in his den while 11 children and their friends roamed freely about the house. Other times there was music, lots of music. Pots, pans, spoons, piano, bongos, gut bucket and of course the singing. He was the leader of the unofficial neighborhood jug band. He brought laughter and music and a baseball team of girls to our neighborhood, a gift that will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace Mr. Groth.
August 12, 2021
My wife Carol and I enjoyed his occasional a cappella singing at the Sailfish Club. He was a free spirit.
August 11, 2021
We are so sorry to hear about Uncle Johnny's passing. Johnny was such a fun person to be around and always made you feel special. He will truly be missed. Our prayers are with Aunt Betty and the Groth Family. Know that we are thinking of you all.
Jim and Amy Stoll Family