Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, 1911-1917, 1930; Chicago Cubs, 1918-1926; St. Louis Cardinals, 1926-1929
After Grover Alexander won 30 games
for the 1917 Phillies, he was traded, in
part because the Phils didn’t want to
meet his salary demands.
Grover Cleveland Alexander (1887-1950) paced the New York State League at age 23 with 29 wins in 1910, and Syracuse sold him to the Philadelphia Phillies for $750. With the acquisition of Alexander, the Phillies almost instantly became a contender.
In 1911, “Pete” won 28 games, a modern rookie record, and also set National League rookie marks for strikeouts and shutouts that have since been broken.
Pete’s seven years in Philadelphia were the most successful and probably the happiest of his life. In 1915, his 31 wins spearheaded the Phillies to their only pennant before 1950.
The following season, Alexander scored a personal-high 33 victories and notched an all-time-record 16 shutouts. When he won 30 again in 1917, he became the last pitcher to be a 30-game winner in two consecutive seasons, let alone three.
With the U.S. involved in World War I, the Phillies traded Pete to the Cubs, thinking he would soon be drafted. After pitching just three games in 1918, Pete was sent to France with the 89th Infantry Division.
Serving on the front lines, he lost the hearing in one ear and also began experiencing the first symptoms of epilepsy. Between the illness and the shell shock he had suffered, Alexander came to rely more and more on alcohol for solace.
Upon his return from overseas, Pete rejoined the Cubs and had several outstanding years with Chicago. Waived to the Cardinals in early 1926, the man now known as “Old Pete” came to St. Louis with a chronic sore arm and a reputation for no longer being able to keep his drinking under control. In the Mound City his arm revived, however, enabling him to win nine games for the Cardinals down the stretch and setting the stage for the most dramatic moment of his career.
In the 1926 World Series against the Yankees, Pete won both the second and sixth games in a starting role and then went out on the town, believing his work to be done. But in Game 7, when New York loaded the bases in the seventh inning with two out, Alexander was called out of the bullpen to protect a 3-2 St. Louis lead. Despite nursing a monumental hangover, he proceeded to fan rookie slugging sensation Tony Lazzeri on four pitches. Pete then set down the vaunted New Yorkers in the final two innings without surrendering a hit.
Pete won 21 games in 1927, the ninth and last time he reached the magic circle. His professional career ended in 1930, and he was named to the Hall of Fame in 1938.
Here are Grover Alexander's major league totals:
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