In lieu of actual baseball, I’ll be posting snippets that were cut from The Baseball Codes as a way of amusing myself and, hopefully, you. Today’s theme: Criticizing teammates.
Perhaps the most noteworthy example of a pitcher blaming one of his teammates for a defeat he suffered came when A’s Hall of Famer Lefty Grove was kept from winning his 17th consecutive game in 1931. Grove took the loss when left fielder Jimmy Moore, a second-year player, charged in for a ball that ended up sailing over his head, and allowed the winning run to score for the Browns with two outs in the seventh inning of a game that would end 1-0.
When Grove stormed into the post-game clubhouse he was ready to rip someone’s head off—but his target wasn’t Moore. Instead, Grove was steamed at Al Simmons, Philadelphia’s regular left fielder, who missed the game to go to Milwaukee for medical treatment on his infected left ankle. Simmons, a future Hall of Famer, would likely have easily made the catch.
“I didn’t say anything to Jim Moore, ’cause he was just a young guy just come to the team and he never played in St. Louis before,” said Grove in Baseball When the Grass Was Real. “It was Simmons’ fault. He’s the one I blame for it.”
“The sparks were flying off Grove . . .” said A’s outfielder Doc Cramer. “He was about three lockers down from me. I saw him stand up and take hold of the top of his shirt with both hands—we had buttons on our shirts in those days—stand like that for a second, and then rrrip! He tore that shirt apart so fast and so hard that I saw the buttons go flying past me, three lockers away. Then everything went flying—bats, balls, gloves, shoes, benches. He broke up a couple of chairs. He kicked in a couple of lockers. Nobody said a word.”