Hall of Fame: Lefty Grove (1947)

Mack called him “Groves” because that’s how his name appeared in boxscores while with the Orioles.

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  W   L   G   GS  CG SHO  GF SV   IP     H    R   ER   HR  BB   SO   ERA *lgERA *ERA+ WHIP
+--------------+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+-----+-----+----+-----+
1925 25 PHA AL 10 12 45 18 5 0 12 1 197.0 207 120 104 11 131 116 4.75 4.65 98 1.716
1926 26 PHA AL 13 13 45 33 20 1 9 6 258.0 227 97 72 6 101 194 2.51 4.18 166 1.271
1927 27 PHA AL 20 13 51 28 14 1 18 9 262.3 251 116 93 6 79 174 3.19 4.26 133 1.258
1928 28 PHA AL 24 8 39 31 24 4 6 4 261.7 228 93 75 10 64 183 2.58 4.00 155 1.116
1929 29 PHA AL 20 6 42 37 19 2 5 4 275.3 278 104 86 8 81 170 2.81 4.24 151 1.304
1930 30 PHA AL 28 5 50 32 22 2 17 9 291.0 273 101 82 8 60 209 2.54 4.69 185 1.144
1931 31 PHA AL 31 4 41 30 27 4 10 5 288.7 249 84 66 10 62 175 2.06 4.51 219 1.077
1932 32 PHA AL 25 10 44 30 27 4 13 7 291.7 269 101 92 13 79 188 2.84 4.52 159 1.193
1933 33 PHA AL 24 8 45 28 21 2 16 6 275.3 280 113 98 12 83 114 3.20 4.28 134 1.318
1934 34 BOS AL 8 8 22 12 5 0 6 0 109.3 149 84 79 5 32 43 6.50 4.72 73 1.655
1935 35 BOS AL 20 12 35 30 23 2 4 1 273.0 269 105 82 6 65 121 2.70 4.72 175 1.223
1936 36 BOS AL 17 12 35 30 22 6 3 2 253.3 237 90 79 14 65 130 2.81 5.29 188 1.192
1937 37 BOS AL 17 9 32 32 21 3 0 0 262.0 269 101 88 9 83 153 3.02 4.76 158 1.344
1938 38 BOS AL 14 4 24 21 12 1 3 1 163.7 169 65 56 8 52 99 3.08 4.93 160 1.350
1939 39 BOS AL 15 4 23 23 17 2 0 0 191.0 180 63 54 8 58 81 2.54 4.71 185 1.246
1940 40 BOS AL 7 6 22 21 9 1 1 0 153.3 159 73 68 20 50 62 3.99 4.51 113 1.363
1941 41 BOS AL 7 7 21 21 10 0 0 0 134.0 155 84 65 8 42 54 4.37 4.15 95 1.470
+--------------+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+-----+-----+----+-----+
17 Yr WL% .680 300 141 616 457 298 35 123 55 3940.7 3849 1594 1339 162 1187 2266 3.06 4.53 148 1.278

1 MVP award (1931)
2 Triple Crowns (1930, 1931)
6 All-Star games (1933, 1935-1939)

Robert Moses Grove was born on March 6, 1900 in Lonaconing, Maryland. As an amazing and renowned sandlot player in the 1910’s, Groves attracted a lot of attention, and finally caught the attention of Jack Dunn, the same man who discovered Babe Ruth. Groves instantly became a minor-league success, but because Dunn’s Baltimore Orioles were not a major-league team and had no affiliation with a major-league team, Groves stayed in Baltimore through 1924, four years after being brought to the team.

In 1925, the Philadelphia A’s bought Groves for an unprecedented $100,500. His first season, however, didn’t reflect his talent as injuries drove him to a 10-13 record. A year later, he would win one of his record 9 ERA crowns, and he won 20 games for the first time the following season. In 1928, Groves pulled off an extraordinary feat of trivia by being the first and only pitcher to strike out the side in 9 pitches twice in one season (I really need to do a post on random baseball records), and only Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan have done it twice in a career.

The next three years saw an unprecedented level of success for Groves and the A’s. The A’s won three straight pennants and two World Series from 1929-1931, and they did it on the back of Groves who went a combined 79-15, including his two Triple Crown seasons. Another odd sidenote — Groves’ MVP Award from 1931 is the only one not in the Hall of Fame Museum and instead resides in the Lonaconing Library. After a few more seasons of decent success, Connie Mack sold the team, and Groves was traded to the Boston Red Sox.

He still pitched well for the Red Sox, and he retired in 1941 with the highest winning percentage of a 300-win pitcher (still around today). One thing he wasn’t good at was hitting. He struck out a major-league record 593 times as a pitcher. So he was no Babe Ruth, but we can live with that. He was honored in 1947 when he was elected to the Hall with 123 votes out of the possible 161 (76.4%).

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