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Happy birthday to Grover Cleveland Alexander - A Hunt and Peck

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This righty would have been 131 years old today...

Today I am going to take you back: first to February 26, 1887 in Elba, Nebraska. On that day, Grover Cleveland Alexander was born. Next we go to April 15, 1911 when a twenty-four year-old Alexander began his major league baseball career with the Philidelphia Phillies. “Old Pete”, as he was nicknamed, would go on to play in twenty seasons in the league, spending four seasons with the Cardinals from 1926 to the end of the 1929 season, winning his only World Series with the 1926 team.

He is most remembered in Cardinals lore for the 1926 World Series where he pitched two complete games in Games Two and Six, allowing only two runs in each of those victories. Of course, his most famous, or perhaps infamous, moment of that series occurred during the seventh inning of Game Seven, when manager Rogers Hornsby brought him in to replace Jesse Haines, who had developed a blister on his hand as the Cardinals held on to a 3-2 lead. According to one of his teammates, Alexander had spent the night before drinking and was hungover as he took the mound the next day. Despite that, he struck out to batter Tony Lazzeri (one strike coming on a long foul ball that curved at the last second). After retiring the Yankees in order in the eighth, he came back out for the ninth to attempt the seven out save. With two outs, Alexander faced Babe Ruth. Ruth walked on a very close full count ball, then was thrown out attempting to steal second base to secure the Cardinals game and series win. It was the Cardinals first World Series win.

It was a high point in a Hall of Fame career for the three-time Pitching Triple Crown (leads league in wins, strikeouts, and ERA) winner, six-time NL wins leader, four-time NL ERA leader, and six-time NL strikeout leader. Alexander was a nine-time twenty-game winner, and a three-time thirty-game winner. He retired after 5190 innings having won 373 games to 208 losses with a 2.56 ERA, 2198 strikeouts, and a 2.88 FIP, and accumulated 117 rWAR and 96.5 fWAR.

While his best years were certainly with the Phillies and Cubs, Grover Cleveland Alexander turned about to be exactly who the Cardinals needed for the most important games of the 1926 season. When it comes to being a legend, sometimes that is all the matters.

Happy birthday, Old Pete!

Pete Alexander » Statistics » Pitching | FanGraphs Baseball

Grover Cleveland Alexander | Wikipedia

Pete Alexander Stats | Baseball-Reference.com

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