Grover Cleveland Alexander

    Alexander, tied with the third most wins in baseball history with 373, ("Career Leaders & Records for Wins," n.d.) did not always pitch in a sober state of mind. Author Bill Veeck (Appendix C) said it best, “Grover Cleveland Alexander drunk was a better pitcher than Grover Cleveland Alexander sober (Chafets, 2009, pg. 55).”

    In 1911 “he was struck by a pitch and had to deal with bouts of epilepsy the rest of his life ("Baseball Greats: Pitchers" n.d.).” Alexander still ended the season with 28 wins, which stands as a rookie record even to this day.

    “World War I saw him being taken away from the game of baseball in 1918 where he suffered shell shock, worsened seizures and as bad as his drinking was before, it became far worse afterwards ("Baseball Greats," n.d.).” After returning to the game in 1920 he would win his third Triple Crown but alcoholism would sour his relationship with several teams ("Baseball Greats," n.d.).

    His question of character now comes into play. Clearly, conduct that occurs during a player’s career is the most relevant to assessing his character as it relates to baseball and will have the most impact on his reputation (Marshall, 2009).

    Obviously, his on-field performance is measured with greatness: he is second in the history books with 90 career shutouts ("Pete Alexander," n.d.), his 373 wins are tied for first in the National League record book ("Wins Records," n.d.), and he won the National League Pitcher's Triple Crown in 1915, 1916 and 1920 ("MLB Triple Crown Winners," n.d.). In 1999 he ranked number 12 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players ("TSN Presents," 1999), and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team ("Grover," n.d.).

    His off field reputation was filled with alcoholic binges, especially after he retired from the game.  He became “chronically broke and occasionally jailed for public drunkenness (Chafets, 2009, pg. 55).”

    For his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1939 that included Ruth and Cobb, among others, Alexander barely had the money to make it there (Chafets, 2009, pg. 55). The Hall of Fame, realizing that he was broke, offered him a job as a security guard there but he “turned it down and hit the road, drifting (Chafets, 2009, pg. 55)” instead.