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  • Pete Alexander Thread

    I always thought Alex's true life story would make a great movie. The movie with Reagan was a cute little innocent baseball film, but it left out the gritty details of Grover's life. And it's the gritty details that make his such a compelling story.

    If I were to write the screenplay, I would start the movie out when Alec is a broken down old man in the flea circus, getting paid a quarter to reminisce about his golden days. Then I'd tell his life story in flashbacks, switching between the sad, lonely old man's current sorry existance, and his remembrences of past glories, WWI horrors, and various drunken embarrassments.

    If I could get Clint Eastwood to play Alec, what a movie that would make!
    "Hey Mr. McGraw! Can I pitch to-day?"

  • #2
    These are some awesome pics and posts. I looked up a few articles and converted them to Word. They are all early stories about Alexander when he was a phenom in 1911. They give some good insight into his pitching form and his background. One thing I notice looking at the pics is that like so many of his fellow players, he looks much older than his actual age. At the age of 23 he could pass for 35. As I read about his upbringing, he lived a hard life on the farm.

    The Atlanta Constitution Jul 16, 1911

    DOOIN SAYS ALEXANDER’S FAST BALL JUMPS A FOOT
    Manager Charles Dooin, of the Phillies declares that he has the greatest young pitcher in the National League in the person of young Alexander, the recruit who has won twelve and lost two games since becoming a major leaguer. Incidentally, Dooin and President Horace Fogel claim that the figures are incorrect and that Alexander really has won thirteen of his fifteen games.

    This young Alexander is supposed to possess one of the finest assortments of deceivers of any youngster in the game. His fast one is the most effective, according to Manager Dooin and the red-haired boss will take oath that this jumps anywhere from fourteen to fifteen inches. An exaggeration? The manager of the Phillies says no. He says it is an actual fact that that the fast one of this youngster jumps more then a foot.

    Alexander isn't exactly built on the endurance order, and yet he has always had the reputation of being a pitcher who could do a lot of work in a season. Last year he was with the Syracuse, N.Y. team of the New York State League. Ho pitched forty-six games in that league. Incidentally, he pitched some mighty good ball the latter part of the season, when he went fifty-tour innings without being scored upon.

    Alexander is a youngster, being but 23 years old. He is a westerner, his home being in St. Paul. Neb. He stands six toot two inches but is rather slight, being built on the King Cole order.

    Dooin is positive that he will be a good twirler for many years for his motion is easy and graceful. There is nothing of the jerky order about him for he is one of those fellows who go along smooth and easy year after year. Dooin thinks he is a wonder. Nor is he afraid to say as much. He says that Alexander has too much sense to allow a bit of praise to turn his head. Merely another asset.

    The Atlanta Constitution, July 23, 1911

    NO NEW STUFF SAYS ALEXANDER
    Somebody asked Pitcher Alexander, of the Philadelphia Nationals, the other day to explain the secret of his wonderful success this year and his sensible reply was:

    "I study the weakness of a batsman and try to place the ball where he can’t hit it. There isn’t much difference between the majors and the minors except that you receive better fielding support in fast company and that always encourages a pitcher.

    I haven't tried to experiment with any mysterious shoot and never will. I rely on my side arm curve a great deal when in tight places and continually change my pace. I've been playing professional ball only three years and the thought that some day I’d be in the National League never entered my head until I was bought from Syracuse. I never abuse my health, keep in good trim and like to pitch whenever called upon.

    I don't believe in a pitcher trying to master too many curves, All I have is a side arm curve, an overhand in-shoot and a hop to my fast ball. By controlling them as well as possible and keeping cool I’ve succeeded better than I ever dreamed I would.”
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-05-2007, 09:06 PM.
    "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

    Rogers Hornsby, 1961

    Comment


    • #3
      Chicago Daily Tribune, July 30, 1911

      Young Players Who Are Making Good in the Major Leagues - No. III - Grover C. A1exander
      BY HARVEY T. WOODRUFF
      Less than ten years ago Grover Cleveland Alexander, the sensational young right hand pitcher of the Philadelphia Nationals, earned his first money as a ball player. The amount was $6, but more important than the amount was Alexander’s determination, then formed, to switch from his infield position at second base to the pitcher’s mound.

      Alexander. who is now only 24 years old, was a boy at the time and playing on one of two picked teams at a Danish celebration at Danneborg, Neb. In the sixth inning with the score 12 to 3 against Alexander’s nine, two venturesome partisans registered wagers of $1 to $16, Bryan odds, that the under dog would win the game. One of them promised Alexander $5 if he could win.

      Then the future star, who was on the middle sack and had never pitched before, determined to get the $5. Realizing affairs could not be worse, he took his place in the slab and held the opposition hitless for the remainder of the game, while a batting rally behind him resulted in ultimate victory, 13 to 12. That ended Alexander’s days as an infielder. Thereafter he was a pitcher or an outfielder when not working on the mound.

      The present Quaker's boyhood home was near St. Paul, Neb. His father was one of the pioneers who went to that country and bought farm lands in 1871. So “Dode,”’ as he was known to his boyhood pals, or ‘Aleck,” as he is known to his present teammates, played on the country nine against St. Paul and later was persuaded to join the town club in games against teams from neighboring towns. In a desultory way he played on various clubs in Nebraska sometimes receiving a few dollars for pitching, but more often working only for the fun or it and even taking days off at his own expense from his work as a lineman for a Nebraska telephone company.

      In 1908, Alexander accepted his first regular position with the Central City Neb. club at a salary of $50 per month playing Saturdays and Sundays and one or two other days a week, the club being backed by the firemen of the city. After the regular season closed for Central City he went to Burwell for a. month of extra games, and while playing against the National Indians attracted the attention of a pitcher named Sanders who had been with Galesburg. Sanders was posing as an Indian, and when Alexander twice downed the Indians Sanders wrote to his former manager at Galesburg telling him of his western find. During the winter Alexander received on offer of $100 per month from Galesburg and the Nebraska farmer boy accepted.

      ”I didn’t really expect to make good,” said the modest Alexander the Great, as he is now known. “I thought my success had been due to the fact that the fellows I had been playing against did not know anything about baseball, just as I knew practically nothing.”

      Yet Alexander won fifteen of twenty three games for Galesburg which was ornamenting the lowest round in the pennant race, before he was hit by a thrown ball along in July. The young pitcher was unconscious from the blow for thirty hours, was in bed two weeks, and when he recovered found that his eye had a double vision. His work previous to his injury, however, had attracted the attention of Manager Charley Carr of Indianapolis whose club bought the youngster and had him treated successfully by an Indianapolis eye specialist.

      In the spring of 1910, Alexander was ordered to report to the Indianapolis club, but did not even get in any practice before he was sent to Syracuse under an optional agreement. Whether Philadelphia bought him from Indianapolis or drafted him from Syracuse, Alexander says he does not know and has never inquired, although the records show he was drafted. For Syracuse last year Alexander took part in forty-three games, winning twenty-nine and losing fourteen. The last six games were shutouts.

      When the recruit held the world’s champions Athletics without a hit for five innings in one of the exhibition games this spring, Manager Dooin deemed his new charge worthy of a league trial and Alexander, jumped to the front with a sensational a bound as did King Cole of the Cubs last season.

      Alexander has an effective side arm ball and a good fast ball with a break to it, and with this as the basis of his stock in trade has become the most talked of new pitcher of the year. He nonchalantly admits he is willing to walk four or flve men a game in trying to pitch to a batter’s weakness which is his theory of success in pitching. As a result, he says he often finds himself in a hole to the batter and the base on ball results. But theremust be something in his method, for the twenty-one games he has won for the Phillies this season explains in large measure the high, standing of the club. Alexander ascribes much of his success to the coaching of Pat Moran the old Cub catcher now with Philadelphia.

      Alexander’s first league game was a defeat from Boston 5 to 4 in ten innings in which only seven hits were secured, but breaks in his support cost heavily. He lost only one other game in his first ten with the Cubs winning 6 to 2. When a young fellow fresh from the minors wins eight of his first ten games the fans begin to sit up and take notice and they have been sitting up and taking notice ever since.

      The successful pitcher is a big fine looking fellow, standing six feet and one inch and weighing 175 pounds. He is a likable fellow personally and talks intelligently on his chosen profession. His size suggests early prowess on the football field but football was not in his school curriculum. Since giving up his job of lineman to that of baseball player Alexander has hunted during the fall and winter, getting duck, geese, prairie chickens, quail, rabbits, and such game as is found near his home.

      Alexander comes of Scotch-Irish stock. He has seven brothers and a sister in Nebraska. Of the brothers, he credits only one with a possible baseball future. A sixteen year old has aspirations to be a big league pitcher like brother “Aleck”. Despite all his success and the glamour of the big cities where he is a hero to thousands of fans, this product of the Nebraska prairies looks forward to the time when he can buy Nebraska farm lands with his earnings and there return when his pitching arm loses its cunning. At the rate he is going he will be able to buy several quarter sections before he is a candidate for retirement.
      Last edited by Bench 5; 11-28-2006, 12:34 AM.
      "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

      Rogers Hornsby, 1961

      Comment


      • #4
        The Atlanta constitution, Aug 13, 1911

        ALEXANDER’S LIFE-LONG SCRAP
        Grover Cleveland Alexander. the sensational young twirler of the Phillies, who has startled the baseball world by his wonderful work on the mound this season, is to be signed to a three-year contract by the Phillies when the team arrives home. The exact terms of the contract are not known, but it is said on pretty good authority that “Alex’ will receive the largest salary ever paid to a Philly player with the exception of Manager Dooin.

        Based entirely upon the theory that “Alex” is to receive considerable over $5,000 a year for his three years which is certain, the youngster becomes one of the highest priced players in baseball and is the first youngster to be honored with such a tremendous salary before he has even completed his first year in the big leagues.

        President Fogel realizes that Alexander and Dooin have been responsible to a great extent for the successful financial season the club has had thus far, and the club officials realize that Alexander has proven a great drawing card.
        Throughout the National League circuit Alexander is looked upon with wonder by the fans, and every time he is announced as the twirler the stands are filled. It reminds one of the time when the famous ‘Rube” Waddell as making the Athletics’ owners a barrel of money. It is admitted that Alexander is more of a card, especialy in the west, than Waddell ever was, as the “Rube’ was so eccentric that the fans tired of his antics on the ball field. They realize that “Alex’ is a sensible youngster who takes great care of himself and that he is due to be a star for many years.

        Alexander’s rise in baseball has been even more rapid than that of Christy Mathewson who broke in with a wonderful record in 1901 and who has been the premier pitcher in the land until this season. Matty saved the National League by packing the grounds in every city whenever he twirled, just at a time when the American League had the National on the run during the baseball war.

        Not only does the signing of Alexander to a three-year contract at a fancy figure help the club, but it helps the league, as well, as it will make the Nebraskan even more interesting to the public and will attract such large crowds to the ball parks when he is twirling that the whole league will be benefited.

        The rise of Alexanôer has been marvelous. He recently told a bit of his childhood history the other day which makes him even more interesting to the public. Alexander’s parents lived in Clinton. Iowa and in 1870 they joined a party of settlers off to the far west. A little dot on the present map of Nebraska was the first stopping place of the band, and the little settlement was guarded by government troops because of the hostile Indians who were terrorizing the inhabitants of that section.

        Several children wore born to the Alexanders, two of which were killed in an accident. Finally, Grover Cleveland came into the world. “Alex,” as he is now known to baseball fans, was born in a hut made of sods.

        Grover is 22 years of age now, and passed the first three years at his life in this hut. The hut was built by Grover’s father, and was a one-story affair. The floor and ceiling were covered with plain boards, while the walls were made of layers of thick and heavy grass sod.

        Until “Alex” was 10 years old there was not a residence of any sort within thirty miles of this little settlement composed of fifty families.

        Finally, St. Paul, Nebraska, was built up, but even St. Paul was ten miles away from the Alexander home. When “Alex” was 16, Grover’s older brothers and father built their present home on the same spot where the hut in which he was born had stood. They built the house themselves, and after their own ideas, improving it from time to time.

        That old home has its attractions for “Alex” and he says he is going to pass every winter he has in that same old home. His first seasons salary, or that part of it he has received so far, including the extra money the club presented to him for his grand work, has purchased “Alex” a plot of ground in the center of the town

        Just an soon as he receives enough advance money for signing the three-year contract, Grover is going to build a home on that lot, and present it to his parents. They have always wanted to live in town, and Grover is going to satisfy that wish, now that good fortune is smiling upon him.

        “Alex” has had a hard time in life until he broke into baseball, and he knows just what his parents went through, and he does not intend that they shall ever want for anything, if he can help them.

        When he was 16, Grover worked from 5 in the morning until 6 at night on a neighboring farm for $1 a day. When his day’s work on the farm was through, Grover found more work awaiting him at home.

        “AIex’ never intended to play baseball for a living. His first idea in going to Galesburg, Ind. where he played his first professional ball was to take a summer’s rest, and to go back to hard work on the farm again. “Alex” never shirked work in his life, but he had an easy summer, and he made up his mind to become a ball player.

        He went into baseball just as he tackled everything else. His whole heart was in the game, and “Alex” worked from morning till night on the ball field to learn how to pitch as a star should pitch.

        Thousands of baseball fans throughout the country, and seven clubs in the National League, besides the Phillies, can testify that the Nebraska farmer boy has succeeded even beyond his wildest dreams.
        "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

        Rogers Hornsby, 1961

        Comment


        • #5
          I assume those were originally PDF files. How do you convert them to Word?
          "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

          - Alvin Dark

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by AstrosFan
            I assume those were originally PDF files. How do you convert them to Word?
            I believe he said in the Hornsby thread that he hypes them by hand.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by CTaka
              Has there been a "Mathewson vs Alexander" poll or thread? If so, could someone give me the link?
              Here's the biggest one I could find:

              http://www.baseball-fever.com/showth...over+Cleveland
              Red, it took me 16 years to get here. Play me, and you'll get the best I got.

              Comment


              • #8
                My father told me--several times; it must have stuck in his mind--about going to a carnival and seeing Old Pete as a sideshow exhibit after his playing days.
                The ball once struck off,
                Away flies the boy
                To the next destin'd post,
                And then home with joy.
                --Anonymous, 1744

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by AstrosFan
                  I assume those were originally PDF files. How do you convert them to Word?
                  I used to type the PDF by hand. After my computer died three weeks ago, I bought a new one. With the new one when I click on print it gives me the option to use Microsoft Office Document Image Writer. So what I have learned to do with the PDF documents is to 1) cut and paste the image to Word, 2) click Print and select Document Image Writer and save to a folder, 3) once the file is in Document Image Writer click on Tools and click Send Text to Word. Depending on how clear the image is, sometimes the document converts very well but sometimes it contains a lot of errors. So I go through and correct them. It still saves a lot of time versus typing everything. I don't have the access rights to convert PDF to text so this is the next best thing.
                  "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

                  Rogers Hornsby, 1961

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mwiggins
                    It does make sense that Alexander's war experience could have led to his drop in effectiveness post-1920. But it doesn't explain why there was no drop in effectiveness in 1919 and 1920, but then the bottom dropped out in 1921. He was just as effective in 1920 as he did in 1916 & 1917.

                    1916 - 33-12, 389 IP, 170 ERA+
                    1917 - 30-13, 388 IP, 153 ERA+
                    1919 - 16-11, 235 IP, 167 ERA+
                    1920 - 27-14, 363 IP, 168 ERA+
                    1921 - 15-13, 252 IP, 113 ERA+

                    If he was a 'broken man' when the Cubs got him, wouldn't he have been less effective than he was was for the Phillies?
                    I think the author was referring more to the man- to his personal life, which was in worse shambles than ever- and his drinking, when increased exponentially upon his return from France.

                    Alexander, the greatest pitcher and greatest workhorse in the world just a couple years previous, went 0-5 to start the 1919 season. Skipper writes:

                    "A big problem had developed. Alex felt as if his right arm were about to fall off. He had never experienced anything like it, not even in the 1915 World Series, when he had the infamous sore arm. This was different. This was, in all probability, war-related. Cub trainer Fred Hart said that he was "muscle-bound", not like a bodybuilder with bulging biceps, but like a man whose muscles had bound up on him, causing him extreme pain. It was the result of Alex's spending seven weeks in Germany yanking the lanyards of howitzers and now using different muscles in the same arm to throw a baseball day after day. What he needed, Hart said, was rest."

                    "And he did rest, and eventually climbed to 16-11. Nine of his wins were shutouts, and his 1.72 earned run average was not only best in the National League but remains the best Cub era ever. A comparison of the numbers, though, is evidence enough that Alex had lost something, and had not yet returned to the form that made him the dominant pitcher in the National League before the war. In 1917, he had 44 starts and one relief appearance. In 1919, he was only able to start 27 games with three relief appearances. In 1917 he pitched 388 innings with 34 complete games. In 1919, he could only manage 235 innings and 20 complete games."

                    The author then goes on to discuss the profound impact that the ban of trick pitches and the spitball had, and how Alexander actually benefited from this- as many other greats and middle of the road pitchers were divested of their weapons and effectively disenfranchised.

                    To answer your question, though, the reason for his incredible resurgence in stamina in 1920 is not yet entirely clear to me, to be honest. Perhaps it was again the intervention of Dr. John D. "Bonesetter" Reese, a native of Cy Young's own Youngstown, Ohio.

                    "Word spread so quickly that in 1903, the Pirates offered Reese the job as team doctor, a position he would turn down because it would force him to leave Youngstown. So instead, the Hall of Famers came to Youngstown to see him. Cy Young came. Christy Mathewson came. Ty Cobb came. In all 28 future Hall of Famers, and more than 50 Major Leaguers altogether, made the trek to Youngstown to have their aching bones treated and twisted into place by Bonesetter Reese."

                    Throughout the 20's, Alex would visit Reese when he would have a dislocation or chronic pain (which was often). Clearly, though, it was a stop-gap measure, and most of his strength was gone. He was frequently on a once-a-week duty as the injuries came and went, where that was unheard of in his prime.

                    After the 1920 season, Alexander never struck out 100 batters again. He had to rely entirely on brains, finesse, and the defenses behind him. In 1921, his strikeout total dropped all the way to 48.

                    Another side note- Alexander's wife, Aimee, always maintained that Alex's problems were due to more to epilepsy than to alcohol and blamed some of his behavior as an aftereffect of a brutal beaning he had received as a baserunner before he got the the Phillies- so bad, in fact, that he had been left unconscious for 36 hours due to it.

                    Still, the drinking escalated. Aimee Alexander told The Sporting News years later that "Alex never had any regrets. He might suffer from temporary pangs or remorse after a binge but he was a very stubborn man. He would rarely admit to my face that he was sorry, but used to leave little apologetic notes under my pillow, in my purse, and places like that. Once in awhile he would take me in his arms and say, 'Aimee, I don't mean to worry you' Then he'd proclaim his intention to reform. Alex was NOT the malicious type. Alcohol was just something he couldn't handle."

                    Another interesting quote from the book...Alex told Bob Broeg (who just passed away last year at the age of 87) that "There would be times that he'd get up in the morning and have a couple of belts of whiskey in his hotel room. Then he'd brush his teeth, and have a third shot, he said. Alexander also said: 'There were mornings on the road when I'd get to the elevator, and go back to my hotel room, and have a fourth shot before going to breakfast.'"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by csh19792001
                      I think the author was referring more to the man- to his personal life, which was in worse shambles than ever- and his drinking, when increased exponentially upon his return from France.
                      Great stuff. I wasn't aware of his issues in 1919, I guess I'd always assumed he missed the beginning of the season because of something with his military service.

                      From reading that article, I would surmise that his resurgence in the 2nd half of 1919 and his return to form in 1920 was due to him learning how to pitch with his post-war physical condition, as well as recovering somewhat from the effects.

                      But it still seems to make sense that his fall off post 1920 was at least somewhat due to troubles adjusting to the live ball. The question would be whether he would have been able to adjust much better post 1920 if he hadn't suffered as he did in WWI. That proposition certainly seems to make sense. Both he and Johnson had the misfortune of hitting the live ball era just as their best stuff was leaving them. Though both were great enough to able to put up some very good seasons in the 1920's. Such as his 1927 and 1923 seasons.
                      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 11-28-2006, 08:51 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I won't be able to contribute much to this thread in the next few weeks; finals and papers will take up most of my research. But I thought I'd note that Alec and I have something in common: we both won 373 games in the bigs. Just kidding. We're both epileptics. Don't worry, I keep it under control with medicine. Too bad Alec couldn't say the same.
                        "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

                        - Alvin Dark

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                        • #13
                          Speaking of Alex, have any of you seen the movie about him starring Ronald Reagan? I saw it about 20 years ago so it's been a while but as I recall it was entertaining. However, it wasn't historically accurate. It was about on par with the Burt Lancaster movie in which he portrayed Jim Thorpe. They don't make them like they used to. :o
                          "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

                          Rogers Hornsby, 1961

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bench 5
                            Speaking of Alex, have any of you seen the movie about him starring Ronald Reagan? I saw it about 20 years ago so it's been a while but as I recall it was entertaining. However, it wasn't historically accurate. It was about on par with the Burt Lancaster movie in which he portrayed Jim Thorpe. They don't make them like they used to. :o
                            I saw it and liked it. But don't take it seriously as accurate.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Speaking of that....
                              Attached Files

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