Killericon selects Lefty Grove, P, Athletics, Red Sox.
Robert Moses "Lefty" Grove
- May 22
) was one of the greatest pitchers
in Major League Baseball
Born in Lonaconing, Maryland
, Grove was a sandlot star in the Baltimore
area during the 1910s
. His performance caught the eye of Jack Dunn
, the owner of the minor league Baltimore Orioles
, who also discovered Babe Ruth
Grove joined the Orioles in 1920
and embarked on an epic minor league career which saw him regarded by some as one of the best pitchers in baseball, even before he ever threw a pitch in the majors. Breaking into the team's pitching rotation at midseason, Grove posted a 12-2 record. Over the next four seasons, he posted marks of 25-10, 18-8, 27-10 and 27-6, leading the International League
in strikeouts every season.
Grove remained in the minor leagues through 1924
because Dunn, who ran an independent operation with no major-league affiliation, refused several offers from the majors to acquire him. Finally, early in 1925
, Dunn agreed to sell Grove's rights to the Philadelphia Athletics
for $106,000, the highest amount ever paid for a player at the time.
He battled injuries as a rookie and posted only a 10-13 record, despite leading the league in strikeouts. Grove then settled down in 1926
and won the first of a record nine earned run average
(ERA) titles with a mark of 2.51. In 1927
, Grove won 20 games for the first time and a year later, he led the league in wins with 24.
The Athletics won the pennant in three successive seasons (1929
), as well as two straight World Championships 1929
. During the Athletics championship run, Grove led the way as the league's top pitcher, posting records of 20-6, 28-5 and 31-4 in those years, the last of which being his best. Grove led the league in wins, ERA (2.06), strikeouts (175), winning percentage, complete games and shutouts. He was also chosen as league MVP
, making him one of only a handful of pitchers to achieve this honor. His MVP
Award is the only one not housed in Cooperstown, instead being housed at the Georges Creek Library in Lonaconing.
The Athletics continued to contend for the next two seasons, but finished second to the New York Yankees
in 1932 and third behind the Washington Senators
in 1933. Following the 1933
season, team owner Connie Mack
sold Grove to the Boston Red Sox
At the time, the Red Sox were a bad team, and Grove didn't help much his first year, when an arm injury held him to an 8-8 record. However in 1935
, Grove returned to form with a 20-12 record and a league-leading 2.70 ERA. Grove won his eighth ERA title a year later, and also led the league in that category and winning percentage in 1938
. Grove did not win as many games in Boston as he did in Philadelphia, as managers protected his arm as he aged. Nevertheless, Grove continued to post outstanding records, including 14-4 in 1938
and 15-4 in 1939
Grove retired in 1941
with a career record of 300-141. His .680 lifetime winning percentage is still eighth all-time; however, none of the seven men ahead of him won more than 236 games. His lifetime ERA of 3.06, when adjusted for the parks in which Grove played during his career, is second only to the still-active Pedro Martínez
), at 48 percent above average.
Grove was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
. He died in Norwalk, Ohio
and was interred in the Frostburg Memorial Cemetery in Frostburg, Maryland
, Grove ranked number 23 on The Sporting News'
list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players of all time. He was the highest-ranked left-handed pitcher. That same year, Grove was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team