Baseball History: Grover Cleveland Alexander

Pete Alexander and Boston's Ernie Shore prior to the start of the 1915 World Series.

Pete Alexander (R) and Boston’s Ernie Shore prior to the start of the 1915 World Series.

It was 100 years ago and the Philadelphia Phillies were on the way to their initial appearance in the World Series.

The Phillies took the lead for good after back-to-back wins by Pete Alexander and go on to claim their first National League pennant.

On Friday, Aug. 20, the Phillies were tied with Brooklyn in the standings when Alexander came in to a tight contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl. He would hold the Pirates scoreless as the Phillies scored in the 11th to get the win.

The next day, the Phillies swept a doubleheader from the Chicago Cubs with Alexander starting the opener. It wasn’t a stellar performance as he surrendered 10 hits. Philadelphia managed to win 7-5 as he tossed a complete game to raise his record to 23-8 as the Phillies took over first place in the NL.

Philadelphia would go on to win the NL title by seven games over the Boston Braves to set up a showdown with the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.

Alexander won the first game of the series as the Phillies beat they Red Sox and Ernie Shore 3-1 in Philadelphia. However, Boston won the next four and the Phillies wouldn’t win another series contest for 65 years.

The Strat-o-Matic Game Company selected Alexander's 1915 season as his best for an early set Hall of Fame cards.

The Strat-o-Matic Game Co. selected Alexander’s 1915 season as his best for an early set Hall of Fame cards.

Best Years for Alexander in Philadelphia

Entering the 1915 season, Alexander was already a three-time 20-winner with 28 victories as a rookie in 1911. That year, he was 31-10 as he began a run of three straight 30-win seasons with the Phillies.

Alexander won the pitching triple crown that year and again in 1916. He posted career-high numbers in 1915 with an ERA of 1.22 and 241 strikeouts.

After serving in the military during World War I, Alexander was traded to the Cubs before the 1918 season. His best year in Chicago was in 1920 when he was 27-14 and claimed his final pitching triple crown.

Biggest Moment

Grover Cleveland Alexander was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938 after a 20-year career that featured 373 victories and 90 shutouts for the Phillies, Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.

It was with the Cardinals that Alexander had perhaps his most memorable moment. He was picked up on waivers during the season from the Cubs and won nine games to help St. Louis win the NL pennant.

During the 1926 World Series, the 39-year old Alexander posted wins in the games two and six. In the seventh contest, Alexander was called to the mound to face a rookie second baseman named Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded with the Cardinals leading by a run.

After Lazzeri hit a foul ball that had the distance for a grand slam, Alexander fanned him to end the threat. He proceeded to hold the Yankees scoreless the rest of the way as the Cardinals would win their initial world championship when Babe Ruth would be caught stealing for the final out, ending the decisive game.

Alexander was 21-10 in 1927 and then helped the Cardinals reach the 1928 World Series with a 16-9 mark. After the 1929 season in St. Luois, Alexander ended his career with the Phillies in 1930.

Phillies Post-Season History

The Phillies making the post season was a rare occurrence for the team that shared its city with the Philadelphia A’s, which had a couple of dynasties under the legendary Connie Mack until he retired after the 1950 season.

The next time the Phillies made it to the World Series was in 1950, when they lost in four games to the New York Yankees. They won the NL East from 1976 to 1978, but lost each year in the playoffs.

In 1980, the Phillies finally won their first world championship as they beat the Kansas City Royals for the title. The Baltimore Orioles would then beat Philadelphia in the 1983 World Series as would the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993.

Philadelphia won its second World Series title in 2008 as the Phillies would have the best run in the their history with five straight post-season appearances from 2007 to 2011. They lost the 2009 World Series to the New York Yankees.

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