In baseball Grate was known for his throwing arm, including throwing the ball 445 ft 1 in (135.66 m). He appeared with the Phillies during each of his first two pro seasons, splitting both 1945 and 1946 between the Phils and their Class A Eastern Leaguefarm club, the Utica Blue Sox. He was treated very roughly during his 1945 trial with Philadelphia, surrendering 16 runs, all earned, 18 hits, and 12 walks in 81⁄3 innings pitched over four appearances. He won 14 games for Utica in 1946, prompting a September call-up to the Majors, during which he was far more effective. He pitched three shutout innings of relief during his first two appearances, and was credited with his only MLB win on September 22 against the New York Giants at Shibe Park. In his final big-league game, six days later, he allowed only one run in five innings pitched, also against the Giants. In seven MLB games and 161⁄3 innings pitched, all in relief, Grate allowed 22 hits, 17 earned runs, and 14 bases on balls, with eight strikeouts. He had a long minor league career, playing for 13 seasons (1945–1957), winning 50 of 88 decisions as a pitcher and converting to an outfielder and third baseman in 1951 to take advantage of his skill as a hitter. He batted over .300 several times.