From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
March 6, 1900
May 22, 1975 (aged 75)
|April 14, 1925 for
Last MLB appearance
|September 28, 1941 for
|Earned run average
Career highlights and awards
|Member of the National
| Baseball Hall of Fame
|| 76.4% (third ballot)
Robert Moses "Lefty" Grove (March 6, 1900 – May
22, 1975) was a pitcher in
Major League Baseball. Born in Lonaconing, Maryland, Grove was a
sandlot star in the Baltimore area
during the 1910s. His performance attracted the attention of Jack Dunn, the owner of the
minor league Baltimore Orioles, who
also discovered Babe
Grove joined the Orioles in 1920, and broke into the team's
pitching rotation at midseason with 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
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 $100,500,
the highest amount ever paid for a player at the time.
He battled injuries as a rookie and posted a 10-13 mark, which
would prove his only losing record in seventeen seasons, 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.
In 1928, Grove twice struck out the side on nine pitches. On
August 23, he did it in the second inning of a 3-1 win over the
Cleveland Indians to become the third American League pitcher and
seventh pitcher in major league history to accomplish the feat. On
September 27, he did it in the seventh inning of a 5-3 win over the
Chicago White Sox, becoming the first pitcher in major league
history to accomplish the feat twice in a career; since then, only
Sandy Koufax and
Nolan Ryan, both Hall
of Famers, have joined him. Grove, however, remains the only
pitcher to do it twice in the same season.
The Athletics won the pennant in three successive seasons (1929 to 1931), as
well as consecutive World Championships 1929 and 1930.
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
1930, 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.
Award is the only one not enshrined in Cooperstown, instead being
housed at the Georges Creek Library in Lonaconing.
The Athletics contended for the next two seasons, but finished
second to the New York Yankees in 1932 and third
behind the Washington Senators and Yankees in
1933. On 12th December 1933, team owner Connie Mack traded Grove, along
with Max Bishop and Rube Walberg to the
Boston Red Sox
for Bob Kline, Rabbit Warstler
Grove was unable to contribute substantially his first year,
with an arm injury holding him to an 8-8 record. In 1935,
however, 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 ERA and winning percentage in 1938. Grove
continued to post outstanding records, including 14-4 in 1938 and 15-4
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 normalized to overall league
ERA and adjusted for the parks in which Grove
played during his career, is second only to the still-active Pedro
Martínez, at 48 percent better than average.
Grove was elected to the Baseball Hall of
Fame in 1947. He died in
and was interred in the Frostburg Memorial Cemetery in Frostburg,
In 1999, Grove ranked number 23 on The
Sporting News list of Baseball's Greatest Players. He was the
second highest-ranked left-handed pitcher, after Warren Spahn. That
same year, Grove was elected to the Major League
Baseball All-Century Team.