Grover Cleveland Alexander, “Old Pete,” led the St. Louis Cardinals to the 1926 World Championship by beating the New York Yankees in the second and sixth games of the World Series and saving the seventh.
The two teams met again in the 1928 World Series, but this time, the story line was different.
Alexander was 41-years-old. He was still good enough to win 16 games, but he was no longer “Alex the Great.” Some New York baseball writers derisively referred to him as “Alex the Old.”
Today’s media are often vicious and disrespectful, especially the New York media. It’s a tradition. The “scholarly” New York Times presented an account of the game that was not only disrespectful It bordered on the disgusting at times (pun intended).
The Yankees won the opener at Yankee Stadium behind Waite Hoyt, 4-1. Alexander started the second game against George Pipgras. The Yankees blasted Alexander, but he was too great to be embarrassed.
The New York Times referred to Alexander as no longer being Alex the Great. James R. Harrision wrote that Alexander had become Alex the Old who was a “harmless old fellow with a dinky curve.” He left the mound as badly beaten as any pitcher in World Series history.
And you thought that the New York Post and New York Daily News were vicious.
The Yankees jumped on Alexander in the first inning when Lou Gehrig blasted a three-run home run that landed near the right-field corner of the bullpen. The Cardinals tied the game in the next inning, but those three runs were all that they could manage off Pipgras.
Cedric Durst hit a home run in the Yankees’ second and then, in the nightmare third inning, Babe Ruth singled, Gehrig walked, Bob Meusel doubled, Gene Robertson walked and Benny Bengough singled. Alex was finished.
As he trudged slowly off the Yankee Stadium mound, the Great Alexander removed the glove from his left hand and with an underhand toss, gave first baseman Jim Bottomley the ball. He pulled his cap closer to his eyes as he walked toward the Cardinals’ bench.
With his trek half finished, he paused to toss a cud of tobacco from his cheek to the ground. He spat once before continuing the long journey that was about to end.
Alex was not dejected. He was not ashamed. He was not embarrassed.
When he reached the steps of the dugout, he raised his head high, looked into the dugout and then shifted his gaze to the fans behind it. His walk had not been that of a beaten man. He looked the same as he had the day he struck out Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning of the seventh game of the 1926 World Series.
But even the New York Times gave Alex a modicum of the respect he had earned.
Harrison, ever wary of the greatest of the great, wasn’t ready to write off the Great Alexander completely. He recognized that
“Alex is just the sort of stubborn old fellow who might come back against the Yanks early next week and make them look like cute little urchins swinging cute little bats at something they can’t see.”
Who would ever consider Ruth or Gehrig cute little urchins?
Alexander never had the chance to make another start. The Yankees won both games played in St. Louis for a sweep and their third World Championship.
Some might think that the Yankees got even with Alexander, but that isn’t true. In 1926, they had three chances to beat him and failed. When the Yankees finally beat him in 1928, they beat him in a four game sweep.
Alexander’s loss was not as significant as his two wins and save.
By, J. R. (1928, Oct 06). Yankees again win in world’s series; 62,000 see contest. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/104468635?accountid=46260