|Nickname: "Old Pete"
Born: February 26, 1887 (Elba, NE)
ML Debut: April 15, 1911
Final Game: May 28, 1930
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Hall of Fame: 1938 (Baseball Writers; 212 votes on 262 ballots; 80.92%)
Played for: Philadelphia Phillies (1911-1917, 1930); Chicago Cubs (1918-1926); St. Louis Cardinals (1926-1929)
Postseason: 1915 WS, 1926 WS, 1928 WS
Alexander played semi-professional ball as a youth, signing his first pro contract in 1907 at age 22 for $50 month. During his first season he was hit in the head with a ball, an injury probably responsible for the epilepsy he suffered in subsequent years. In 1910 he was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies for $750. In his first year in the majors he led the league with 28 wins (against 13 losses) -- a modern-day rookie record. He also pitched seven shutouts and 31 complete games. Between 1912 and 1920 Alexander led the league in ERA four times (1915, 1916, 1919, 1920), wins five times (1914, 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1920), innings pitched six times, strikeouts six times, complete games five times and shutouts five times (setting a single season record of 16 in 1916). A master of the curveball, he was unquestionably the dominant pitcher in the National League from 1915 through 1917, winning the pitching triple crown in those three years. (He won 30 or more games in three consecutive seasons.)
Anticipating that Alexander would be drafted when America entered World War I, the Phillies sold him to the Chicago Cubs. Alexander served in France in 1918 as an artillery officer; he returned from the war suffering from shell shock, and his epileptic seizures had worsened. He had also become dependent on alcohol. Nonetheless, he earned another pitching triple crown in 1920. In 1925 he entered a sanitorium, and the following year was suspended by the Cubs before being waived to St. Louis. The Cardinals won the National League that year and met the New York Yankees in the World Series, during which Alexander pitched complete game victories in Games 2 and 6. In Game 7 he came in with the Cardinals up 3-2 in the 7th inning. The bases were loaded and there were two outs. Striking out Yankees slugger Tony Lazzeri with four pitches, Alexander held New York scoreless for the final two innings, and St. Louis won the championship.
Old Pete had another 20-win season in 1927, but then the drinking got the better of him. He pitched for the House of David from 1931-1935, and in 1938 was elected to the Hall of Fame.
-- J. Manning
"He made me want to throw my bat away. He fed me pitches I couldn't hit."
-- Johnny Evers
Holds the third highest total in wins (373) in ML history.
Holds league records for most complete games (437) and shutouts (90).
Tenth all time in innings pitched (5,189), and eighth in hits allowed (4,868).