Wicked Curve: The Life and Troubled Times of Grover Cleveland Alexander

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After his discharge in he resumed pitching for the Cubs. He often broke training rules, was addicted to alcohol, and by had become such a disciplinary problem that the team's new manager, Joe McCarthy, disposed of his contract in mid-season to the St. Alexander pitched well for the Cardinals.

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Without the nine victories he turned in during the second half of the season they could not have won the pennant, and his successes against the New York Yankees in the World Series that fall were vital in bringing the world championship to St. He enjoyed another good year in , winning sixteen games, but in the following year, because of his drinking, the club paid him off in full and sent him home six weeks before the close of the season.

That winter he was traded to Philadelphia, where for the first time he lost more games than he won. When the club released him in mid, his major-league career had come to an end. From then on Alexander drifted downhill. He played briefly for the Dallas club of the Texas League, pitched for various semiprofessional outfits, including the well-known House of David team in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and, when he could no longer pitch, took various jobs such as selling tickets at a racetrack and working in a flea circus on 42nd Street in New York.

His health declined; on two occassions he was found lying unconscious in the street; and he suffered a heart attack after watching a World Series game in He finally settled in a rooming house in St. Paul, Nebraska, subsisting on his meager war pension and small sums provided by the National League. He died there, probably of cardiac failure, at the age of sixty-three, and was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in St. Alexander ranks among the best pitchers of American baseball history.

From to he won major league games. The ninety shutout games he pitched sixteen in the season alone set a National League record. He set the major-league record for the lowest lifetime average of runs earned against him in games where he pitched He also led his league five times in this category, thus establishing a record matched only by Sandy Koufax. Seven times Alexander led in innings pitched and strikeouts six times, setting another major-league record, and he pitched complete games. My Wishlist.

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ISBN 13: 9780786424122

Mathewson was born in Pennsylvania and played both football and baseball at Bucknell University. He pitched so badly that summer that the Giants shipped him back to Norfolk and asked for their money back!

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However, he came into his own, and, over the next 16 years, Mathewson won games—still tied with Grover Cleveland Alexander for most wins all-time by a National League pitcher. His career ERA of 2. His greatest year was , when he won the Triple Crown, pitched his second no-hitter and virtually single-handedly defeated the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series. He pitched a four-hit shutout for the Game 1 victory.

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Three days later, he pitched a second four-hit shutout to put the Giants up 2—1. And in Game 5, he threw a 6-hit shutout to clinch the series.

In a span of only six days, Mathewson had pitched three complete games without allowing a run. ESPN selected this pitching performance as the greatest playoff performance of all time. He earned the Triple Crown again in , and by the time he left the Giants for Cincinnati in , he had led the team to four more National League pennants. A number of other ballplayers used their celebrity to help sell war bonds, while many of the lesser players signed up to work in shipyards—essential industry work that exempted them from the draft.

This unit was organized to help combat the German poison gas attacks, which wreaked havoc on the front lines and struck terror into the hearts of those at home.

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This elite fighting unit was trained to anticipate German gas attacks and conduct lightning raids on the flanks of the German infantry following the gas clouds to the Allied lines. During the summer of , US military leadership decided to go public with the plan in order to calm the populace, as well as to recruit men in superb physical condition who also possessed strong leadership qualities. The brass announced it would be specifically recruiting baseball players, because what better class of people to draw from than ballplayers who proved their mettle and conditioning at the highest level of play?

Branch Rickey was brought in as a major to lead this unit. Christy Mathewson and Ty Cobb, already American icons, were recruited as captains. Mathewson went to France almost immediately, joining an existing unit that had already participated in several operations supporting allied tanks and infantry. Rickey and Cobb soon followed. During their final training run tragedy struck the unit. Something went awry in a live gas exercise, and a number of men, Matty and Cobb included, missed the signal to put on their masks.


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Eight men died, and Mathewson inhaled enough of the chlorine gas so that he never recovered. The exposure lingered in his system, eventually leading to tuberculosis.


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Although he returned to serve as a coach for the Giants from —, the illness sapped his strength and required him to take time off at Saranac Lake to fight the illness. In , Mathewson felt well enough to come back to baseball with the Boston Braves as their part-time president. Mathewson died on October 7, the day the World Series began.

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Alexander, Grover Cleveland 1887-1950

The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Senators wore black armbands for the entire Series to honor his passing. Although he is not listed as having been killed in action, it is clear that his death sentence was written that fateful day in France. Matty was the only one inducted posthumously.

When knuckleballer Wilhelm strode to the mound for his final game on July 21, he was the last active ballplayer who had served during World War II.

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