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Wicked Curve: The Life and Troubled Times of Grover Cleveland Alexander

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0786424122
ISBN-10: 0786424125
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John also wrote Inside Pitch.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers (May 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786424125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786424122
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #663,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Byron Fay on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently read John Skipper's book on Grover Cleveland Alexander. I enjoy books on early baseball legends, and I felt this book did a nice job reviewing the career of Alexander and his life after baseball. Those of us who love baseball and enjoy the history of the game have always been aware of his troubled life, but this book brought forward new and accurate information of him. I would recommend this book to all baseball fans. My only complaint is that I thought the price was a little high for what is basically an oversized paperback book. If you can get it at your local library and a reduced price copy it would be to your advantage.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Grover Cleveland Alexander was alcoholic, epileptic, his own worst enemy, and one of the best pitchers ever in baseball history. Author John Skipper has written a wonderful book on "Old Low and Away" in which the reader is exposed to both the greatness of his pitching abilities and his off-the-field nightmares that Alexander had to live with. Old Pete toiled for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals. He didn't get along with new Cubs' manager Joe McCarthy due to his alcohol addiction but what isn't mentioned in the book is that McCarthy, himself, had his own battle with the bottle. Alexander had to scrounge for any employment he could find while other baseball notables such as National League President Ford Frick and St. Louis Cardinals' owner Sam Breadon did their best to keep Alexander afloat financially for the remainder of his life. Alex had aged beyond his years due to his hard living with his numerous bouts with alcohol. His wife Aimee attributed this problem to his experiences in World War I while his problem with epilepsy she attributed to Alex being hit in the head while a base runner when the fielder threw the ball to first base.

Following his baseball career Alexander spent a few years with the House of David baseball team and in a Times Square flea circus in which he regaled people with his strikeout of New York Yankee Tony Lazzeri in the 7th inning of the final game of the 1926 World Series. He spent his final days writing letters to his beloved ex-wife Aimee and hating his town of St. Paul, Nebraska, because they would not serve him any alcoholic beverages.
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Format: Paperback
"Wicked Curve" is the tragic story of an all-time baseball great who would have been held -- then and now -- in greater acclaim if not for his battles with the bottle. There is no telling what Grover Cleveland Alexander could have achieved if not for a minor-league beaning, injuries and hearing loss suffered in World War I and his lifelong association with "John Barleycorn." Biographer John Skipper does a steady and straightforward job of presenting the story behind the star's glories and his descent into poverty and alcoholism. In "Wicked Curve," the reader comes to appreciate the remarkable abilities and achievements of Alexander the Athlete despite the human weaknesses of Alexander the Man. This is a good book for anyone interested in early 20th century baseball.
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Format: Paperback
While skillfully researched, this is a biased book peppered with animadversions about a peerless pitcher and baseball legend. The author, John Skipper, focuses in extensively on the negatives of Grover Cleveland Alexander's alcohol addiction, off field behavior, and tortuous life. Rather than writing a balanced and dispassionate book, Skipper is really representing his own tendentious point of view.

In reviewing his life, Alexander observed that World War 1 ruined him, producing deafness in one ear and shrapnel (later cancer) in the other, exacerbating his epilepsy, and contributing to his mental and physical decline. After the war, he found solace in alcohol to relieve his war wounds and epileptic seizures. Alexander lived before medication and molecular nutrition existed to treat epilepsy; hence, he likely medicated himself with alcohol to forestall seizures. His wife, Aimee, pointed this out as did others. Skipper does not plump the psychological and mental effects of those debilitating chronic problems. He is long on disdain and short on compassion about Alexander's long-suffering life.

The book is clearly an unsympathetic and depressing portrait of a great pitcher who, unlike his Hall of Fame pitching peers, overcame insurmountable odds to continue winning games(193) after returning from the war during the last stretch of his career(1919-1930.) In proportion to what he accomplished vis-a-vis the top 300 game major league baseball pitchers, Alexander's outstanding achievements are frequently overlooked and forgotten today by baseball fans and sports writers. In this regard, some important facts and statistics are omitted from Skipper's book.
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Format: Paperback
I must confess that John C. Skipper is my favorite baseball author and one of my favorite authors of any genre, so expected to enjoy this book. I anticipated a fact filled story that detailed with great skill the life of a legend, but I didn't expect to be moved to tears by the tragedy and humanness of the life of Grover Cleveland Alexander. John did an amazing job of helping the reader not only understand the life of Alexander, but also feel it. 5 Stars are not enough. I wish I could give Wicked Curve 10.
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