May 23, 2013
At age 39, Grover Cleveland Alexander had seen the highs and lows of major league life. Six times a league leader in victories, he won 30 games or more in three consecutive seasons. In 1916, he threw 16 shutouts. He clinched the 1915 pennant for Philadelphia by tossing a one-hitter. Those were the highs.
The lows involved going off to war in 1918, then returning having discovered both liquor and epilepsy. His combat against those twin demons continued for the remainder of his at-times tormented life. Despite those problems, Alexander could still pitch: He won 27 games for the Cubs in 1920, then 22 more in 1923. Traded to St. Louis midway through 1926, he pitched 9 victories in 16 starts to help that club to its first pennant.
Alexander won the second and sixth games of the World Series that year against New York and then, legend has it, celebrated with a bit of a Broadway toot while his team prepped for Game 7. Whether Alex was actually hung over in the bullpen that Oct. 10 afternoon, as legend has it, may be left to speculation. What is a matter of record is that in the seventh inning, with St. Louis leading 3-2, the bases loaded and two out, Cards manager Rogers Hornsby motioned for Alexander to replace starter Jesse Haines and face slugging rookie Tony Lazzeri.
Lazzeri took the first pitch for a strike. Alex fired the next one in on Lazzeri's hands, he turned and pulled the pitch deep down the left field line but foul. The third pitch was a sidearm curve; Lazzeri swung and missed for strike three. Two innings and six outs later, Alexander had recorded the mostmemorable of all his hundreds of mound performances, and given St. Louis its first world championship.
Satchel Paige debuts for Chattanooga of the Negro Southern League May 1.
Brooklyn's Babe Herman doubles into a double play Aug. 15 as three Dodgers wind up on third base in the most famous baserunning gaffe of all.
IN THE WORLD
Admiral Richard Byrd makes the first successful flight over the North Pole May 9.