Monday, December 26, 2022

Christmas Gift From Mom - Lefty Grove Signed Baseball

Mom did it again.  She went and found a Hall of Famer that I needed, and proceeded to add a tough name to my Hall of Fame signed baseball collection.  Not only that, she allowed me to double up on a player who used to be my most coveted signature in the collection.  All of this from the above 1938 Boston Red Sox signed baseball.  The ball has a JSA full letter of authenticity and authenticates five of the ten signatures on the ball (Grove, Bobby Doerr, Jimmie Foxx (!!!!), Fritz Ostermuller and Doc Cramer.  I am going to try to identify the five other guys, but some of the signatures are terribly faded.  The ball has been shellacked, which hopefully will help the signatures stay in their current state.  She got the ball from Fanatics, so it has a really nice case it can stay in.

Grove (b. 1900 - d. 1975) played in the majors from 1925 to 1941 for the A's (Philadelphia) and Red Sox.  He had a career record of 300-141 with 2,266 strike outs and a 3.06 ERA.  He was the AL MVP in 1931 and won the World Series with the A's in 1929 and 1930.  That 1929 team was a 104-win team managed by Hall of Famer Connie Mack and featured Hall of Famers Grove, Foxx, Al Simmons, Eddie Collins and Mickey Cochrane.  The 1930 squad would win 102 games and featured those same future Hall of Famers.

When evaluating Hall of Fame statistics, most pundits like to look at the "Black Ink" meaning instances where a player led their respective league in a stat.  In his career of 17 seasons, Grove would lead the league in: Wins (4 times), Won-Loss % (5 times), ERA (9 times), Games Pitched (1 time), Games Started (1 time), complete games (3 times), shutouts (3 times), Saves (1 time!), walks (1 time), strike outs (7 times, all in a row), wild pitches (1 time), ERA+ (9 times) and so on.  His career WAR was 113.3 (6th all-time for pitchers).  According to, his "Black Ink" score is 111, or 3rd all-time for pitchers.  Walter Johnson is first all-time, followed by Grover Cleveland Alexander, then Lefty Grove.

Grove won 20 or more games eight times in his career.  He was a six-time All Star.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947 with 76.4% of the vote.  All of the above stats being considered, Grove was not elected on his first ballot, nor was he elected with a higher percentage that later pitchers would enjoy.  To be fair, his first appearance on the ballot was in 1936 when he was still playing, and also the election process was much different than it is today.

Grove broke into professional baseball in 1920 while playing for the Class D Martinsburg Mountaineers where he got the attention of Jack Dunn.  Dunn would give Martinsburg enough money for Grove's contract to replace their centerfield wall, buying his contract and making him a Baltimore Oriole.  This was when the Orioles were an independent minor league team.  Dunn would hold onto Grove's contract until selling it to Mack's Philadelphia A's for $100,600 in 1925 (just over a million dollars today), the highest amount ever at the time.

Thank you so much for this awesome baseball, Mom.  This is Hall of Famer number 167 in my collection.