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Cubs History

Grover Cleveland Alexander (1918-1926)

Grover Cleveland AlexanderGrover Cleveland Alexander got his big break when he was traded for a vote. Charles Carr, owner of the American Association's Indianapolis team, had invested in a company that manufactured baseballs. Anxious to have his ball used in the New York State League, he told the owner of the Syracuse team, "If you'll vote for my ball, I'll give you a good pitcher for nothing." The pitcher, Alexander, suffered from double vision at the time but recovered enough to win 29 games for Syracuse-13 of them by shutout. Drafted by the Phillies, he no-hit the Athletics in a five-inning exhibition game and won 28 games in 1911 to set the rookie record. He won 19, 22, and 27 his next three years to set the stage for the most successful three-year run enjoyed by any pitcher.

In 1915 he won 31 games (12 shutouts and a record 4 one-hitters) and outdid himself a year later by winning 33 games, 16 of them shutouts. In 1917 he won 30, two of them complete games in a Labor Day doubleheader against the Dodgers. If there were a "Triple Crown" for pitchers, as many have suggested, Alexander would have won it twice, leading the league in most wins, strikeouts, and lowest ERA for 1916 and 1920.

Traded to the Cubs Dec. 11, 1917, Alexander pitched in just three games before joining the army during World War I. As a sergeant in France, he was gassed on the battlefield and suffered partial hearing loss from the cannon fire. Also afflicted with epilepsy and occasional neurological fits, Alexander's pitching was, nevertheless, unaffected. He enjoyed some of his finest years with the Cubs. He led the league in ERA twice after his trade to the Cubs, for whom he won 27 games and tied a team record (record since 1900) with 33 complete games in 1920.

Alexander, nicknamed "Pete," ranks fourth (since 1900) in complete games (159) and seventh in shutouts (24). Alexander also holds the record for most innings pitched in a year (since 1900) with 363.1 in 1920, and is tied for most shutouts (since 1900) with nine in 1919. On Sept. 20, 1924, Alexander recorded his 300th win.

Waived to the Cardinals in 1926, he pitched the 15-1 underdogs to complete game victories in the second and sixth games and recorded the most dramatic "save" in Series history, striking out Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of the seventh game.

Alexander averaged 19.6 wins for 19 years, pitched 90 lifetime shutouts (second only to Walter Johnson's 110), and won 373 games to tie Christy Mathewson as the N.L. lifetime leader. Even more impressive, he recorded the bulk of them at hitter-friendly parks-Philadelphia's Baker Bowl with its 290-foot right field fence and Wrigley Field. He joined the other immortals in Cooperstown in 1938, becoming the first Cub inducted into the Hall of Fame.