Thursday, March 18, 2010

#220 Lefty Grove

This is one of my favorite cards in the set (have I been saying that about every card?). I like the vivid and colorful depiction of the ballfield and it certainly doesn't hurt that it features one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. I picked up this card from Heritage Auctions a couple of months ago. It's a solid SGC 50, with no creases or wrinkles. With a little better centering, it might have had a shot at grading as a 60.

Robert "Lefty" Grove's career really speaks for itself, so I'll just highlight some of his impressive achievements. Grove pitched for 17 seasons from 1925-1941 for the Philadelphia Athletics (1925-1933) and Boston Red Sox (1933-1941). For his career, Grove was 300-141, with a 3.06 ERA and 2,266 Ks (which is a lot for the era in which he pitched - he led the AL in strikeouts for seven consecutive seasons from 1925-1931). His career 148 ERA+ is fourth-best all-time, behind Mariano Rivera (202!), Pedro Martinez (154) and Jim Devlin (151).

His best season was 1931 when he was named MVP after going 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA (219 ERA+) and 27 complete games. That season, Connie Mack's squad went 107-45, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series in seven games. A win in that series would have made three in a row, as the A's won in 1929 and 1930. In eight career World Series appearances, Grove went 4-2 with a 1.75 ERA and 4 complete games in 5 starts.

Following the 1933 season, the A's traded Grove, along with Max Bishop and Rube Walberg to the Red Sox for Bob Kline, Rabbit Warstler, and $125,000. Unless the A's were on the brink of bankruptcy and needed the cash, it was a mistake. Kline and Warstler washed out and Grove led the league in ERA in 1935, 1936, 1938, and 1939. Over eight seasons in Boston, Grove went 105-62 with a 3.34 ERA (143 ERA+)

Grove was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947.