Monday, April 01, 2013
Fools, Baseball, and an Empty Tomb
Grover Cleveland Alexander was one of the best pitchers in his era, if not all time. But he was also an alcoholic, suffering from PTSD from his service in World War I. Legend has it that he came in relief to pitch in the 7th inning of the 1926 World Series. He struck out Tony Lazzeri of the fabled Yankees with the bases loaded and two outs; and he did so drunk.
Great story, but is it true? Check out this article from a couple of years ago (halfway down). Notice how the commonly accepted legend is attributed to a single witness, catcher Bob O'Farrell. Meanwhile, two other witnesses gave nearly identical accounts contrary to the myth. Now notice the dates- the accounts from player/manager Rogers Hornsby and third baseman Les Bell came 27 and 52 years after this event is said to have taken place respectively. The source of the legend, O'Farrell, gave his testimony in the 1966 book The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It by Lawrence Ritter. Yet whose is the more reliable account? (If you have the chance, read the entire linked article- there's a lot of anecdotal evidence that works in favor of both sides of the story)