Today In Tribe History: Lefty Grove Wins #300
By Vince Guerrieri
The Indians were beginning a three-game set at Fenway Park with the Boston Red Sox 70 years ago today, July 25, 1941. They were facing a pitcher who was arguably the best of all time, Robert Moses “Lefty” Grove. Lefty was a two-time world champion with the Philadelphia Athletics, and won the inaugural American League MVP, but he was coming up to the tail end of his career.
Grove was sitting on 299 wins. He last two starts were hard-luck games that turned into losses for him, and he was aching for the milestone win, which had been accomplished only five times before in the modern era.
“I was determined to get that 300, even if I had to do it right-handed,” he said.
The Tribe took a 4-0 lead, but the Red Sox came to tie it up, thanks in part to a two-run home run by Ted Williams. But the Indians battled back, taking a 6-4 lead in the seventh. Jim Tabor hit a two-run home run for Boston in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game back up, and the Red Sox broke the game wide open in the eighth with four more runs to make it 10-6.
In the top of the ninth, Lefty set down the first two batters, and faced Lou Boudreau, who had already homered that day. But he got Boudreau to fly out to Dom Dimaggio. The game was over, and Lefty picked up his 300th win.
Although his arm was sore, he felt ready to go.
“They’ll have to cut the uniform off me,” he said after the game. “I’m going out for another 300.”
As it turns out, it was Grove’s last win. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947, and the Laconing, Maryland, native ended up in Ohio, moving in with his son and daughter-in-law in Norwalk, where he died in 1975. A baseball league in the town – also the birthplace of football legend Paul Brown – bears Lefty’s name.