Grover Alexander , nicknamed “Old Pete” during his baseball years, was active during the early 1900’s. He was a pitcher who played for various Major League Baseball teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Saint Louis Cardinals. Eventually, his accomplishments during his career led him to get elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Here’s more information about him:
Early Years and Baseball
Grover Cleveland Alexander was born in Elba, Nebraska on February 26, 1887. He was the youngest child in a large family, and he spent time helping his family on the farm. However, early on, he could throw a baseball well, with a lot of skill and accuracy. It is said that his father, William, credited Grover’s experience on the farm as helping him become an effective pitcher. Although this is a myt, one thing is clear – he did display an early proficiency for pitching the baseball and this eventually led him to the major leagues.
Major League Debut
Grover Cleveland Alexander made his major league debut on April 19, 1911 at the age of 24. However, before that, he worked as a telephone lineman while playing baseball for local teams in Nebraska. He became a professional baseball player for the first time in 1909 when he signed for the Galesburg Boosters out of Central City, Nebraska. Unfortunately, he became injured during his first year when he was hit in the head with a ball and had to leave the team while he healed.
Alexander eventually recovered and posted a winning record of 29-11 for the Syracuse Stars of the New York State B League, after which he was sold to the Major League’s Philadelphia Phillies for $750. He debuted with the Phillies by pitching five innings of no-hit, no-run ball in a pre-season game against the Philadelphia Athletics, and from there his career took off. In his first year, he led the National League with 28 wins, a modern-day record for rookie pitchers.
Becoming a Legend
During his time in the major leagues, he led in pitching, strikeouts, and earned run average in 1915, 1916, and 1920. He averaged 27 wins per season for the Phillies, won 30 games or more three times prior to 1918, and ended his career with a record five one-hitters. Opposing batters such as Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Johnny Evers often bemoaned Alexander’s command of pitches and their inability to hit them.
Military Service and Later Career
Alexander’s career was put on hold when he was drafted into the military in 1918 and actively fought in France during World War I. When he returned stateside to resume his pitching career, he found himself suffering from hearing loss, epileptic seizures, and he also drank heavily. This affected his playing considerably, but he still proved to be a capable major league hurler, and spent his remaining years with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and Philadelphia Phillies before retiring in 1930. He won a total of 373 games, achieved an ERA of 2.56, and struck out 2,198 batters. He was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1938 and in 1999 was ranked as the 12th greatest player of all time by the Sporting News.
Grover Cleveland Alexander died November 4, 1950 in St. Paul Nebraska. He is now in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and is considered by some to be one of the best pitchers the game has seen.