Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June 22, 1926: Ole Pete Joins The Birds

     On June 22, 1926, the Cardinals claimed Grover Cleveland Alexander off of waivers from the Cubs. The Reds and the Pirates attempted to lay claim to the embattled hurler who was at odds with the skipper of the Chicago club. However, the Cardinals were behind both of those clubs in the standings at the time, so the Redbirds were able to snatch him up for the waiver price of $4000.

     The 39-year-old hurler would go onto help the Cardinals win the pennant, going 9-7 during the regular season. What made the waiver grab so noteworthy was what "Ole Pete" did in the postseason, pitching two complete game wins in Game 2 and 6, then he came into Game 7 with the score 3-2 and the bases loaded in the seventh and struck out the Tony Lazzeri. Alexander held the Yankees in check the rest of the way, earning what may be the most important save in franchise history.

     10 days before Alexander put on a Redbirds uniform the fans in Chicago game him a car. He was an adored player who had racked up double digits in wins every single full season that he played in The Windy City.With that said, an article that appeared in the Chicago Journal claimed that Ole Pete refused to listen to his skipper, who he considered to a be nothing more than a minor league manager. That led McCarthy to suspending Alexander, then subsequently releasing him.  . With that said, the Cubs skipper, Joe McCarthy, had not been getting along with the former star who had developed a drinking problem that he believed was hurting the Cubs.

     While fan and sportswriters in Chicago were stunned by the turn of events, the writers in St. Louis were praising the move as a good investment. Rogers Hornsby was excited to bring him on board, as there were dreams of a pennant spinning through his head. Alexander had won more than 300 games at that point in his career, and despite being bothered by a sore arm, and a drinking problem, the Cardinals player/manager believed he would be able to overcome the issues,  and would help the dream of a pennant become a reality. Ole Pete did exactly that.

I urge you to read Pete's SABR bio. He won 27 or more games six times, which included a 27 win season for the Cubs in 1920. He won 30 or more three times as a member of the Phillies early in his career, before being traded with the war looming in 1918. His best season as a Cardinal came in 1927 when he won 21 games.  55 of his 373 career wins came as a member of the Cards. His life had the highest and the lowest of lows. With that said, when you think of Ole Pete, think of  one of the greatest hurlers to ever step on a diamond that helped bring a title to St. Louis. You can read his bio here:

You can also look over Alexander's career numbers here:

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