Grover Cleveland Alexander - his outstanding career inspires tribute to his achievements
Grover Cleveland Alexander's dominance of Major League Baseball is the inspiration behind the creation and development of the Museum of Nebraska Major League Baseball. Widely considered one of the greatest pitchers in major league baseball history, he was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938. Evidence of his pitching skill is reflected in career totals for complete games (437), wins (373, third on the all-time list), ERA (2.56), and shutouts (90, and still an NL record). From 1912-1920 Alexander was the most successful pitcher in baseball. In that stretch, he led the league in ERA four times, wins five times, innings pitched six times, strikeouts six times, complete games five times, and shutouts six times (including a single season record 16 shutouts in 1916). In 1915 he was instrumental in leading the Phillies to their first pennant and he also pitched a record four one-hitters that season. Alexander was the most dominant from 1915-1917 when he became the only player to win pitching's Triple Crown (leading the league in three major statistical categories - ERA, Wins, & Strikeouts) for 3 consecutive years. In 1999 he ranked #12 on the Sporting News list of 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
He was born in nearby Elba, Nebraska on February 26th, 1887 and retired in St. Paul, Nebraska where he died on November 4th, 1950. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery south of St. Paul with full military honors after having served our country in World War I. As part of an effort to preserve his memory and honor his accomplishments a committee was formed and employed "Making Memories" of Omaha to build a display portraying Grover's major league baseball career. Credit for the uniqueness of the display is given to Duane Altstadt of Burwell who travels as part of his work and found some memorabilia along with Grover's family who have been generous in their contributions as well.
Early years and creation of GCA Days
In 1991 St. Paul started a local celebration to establish a community identity. A group of volunteers under the leadership of Pam Baker (President of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce) organized an event to honor "Ole Pete". With a goal to make this an annual celebration, Pam Baker, Loren Studley, Carolyn (Meyer) Scarbourgh, Paul and Marie Glause, Anita Jepsen and others started planning the event. Their hard work came to fruition with the creation of Grover Cleveland Alexander Days. Locally referred to as GCA Days, the celebration is held the first full weekend following the 4th of July each year. The Grover display was dedicated during the first GCA Days celebration and initially was located at the St Paul American Legion Club. Because the celebration became such a success and interest grew in the museum the display has made its way from the Gruber House (affiliated with the Howard County Historical Society) to where it is today, the Museum of Nebraska Major League Baseball in downtown St. Paul.
GCA Days has grown over the years to where it is known throughout the state. With a classic car show that regularly has several hundred entries to a street dance that requires closing down part of main street to vehicle traffic. The celebration has become an event that has substantial economic impact for St. Paul. GCA Days has now evolved into a 12-month volunteer effort by many members of the community.
In 1992, Making Memories was hired again to develop a display on Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson of Omaha. During the 1992 GCA Days celebration the Grover Cleveland Alexander display was moved from the St. Paul American Legion Club into the Gruber House (the original home of the museum) as part of a cooperative effort with the Howard County Historical Society. The Alexander and Gibson tributes were located at the Gruber House until 1999.
In 1999 St. Paul Chamber of Commerce President Mick McDowell proposed to have the museum open more hours for fans to visit. It called for the expansion of the museum to include more players from Nebraska that were successful in MLB. The plan included the formation of a baseball committee that would be responsible for the operation/expansion of the museum that would allow GCA Committee members to concentrate on the celebration which had developed into a year-around volunteer effort.
The expansion plan included renting part of the Masonic Lodge building in downtown St. Paul. The Chamber of Commerce moved their office to 619 Howard Avenue and the chamber secretary began serving as a museum host during normal business hours. This would give baseball fans more opportunities to visit the artifacts and work their way through stories and memorabilia illustrating Nebraskan's in the Majors. The Chamber Board approved the plan when a main street Law Firm donated two years rent for the building. Both the GCA Days Committee and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce placed members on the Baseball Board of Directors and there you have the museum structure as we know it today.
Since that time, over 130 major league baseball players with Nebraska ties have been identified. Their careers have been summarized and printed on 8½" x 11" plaques and mounted on our "Wall of Fame". In addition, several players have been singled out for having exceptional careers but haven't yet been elected to the MLB Hall of Fame. These players have been or are going to be recognized in expanded displays throughout the museum. Artifacts and photos are continually sought as donations to the museum as part of the expansion effort. Ken Christensen and Galen Trimbath of St. Paul have been working hard over the years to make the player displays and roster wall a wonderful addition to the attraction. They are worthy of a big "thanks" for all the time and effort put forth into making the museum what it is today.
Including Grover Cleveland Alexander, six players from Nebraska have been inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame and the Museum of Nebraska Major League Baseball honors each with a display in our "Hall of Fame Room". Along with Alexander and Gibson, there are displays for Sam Crawford of Wahoo (1993), Dazzy Vance of Hastings (1994), Richie Ashburn of Tilden (1995), and Wade Boggs of Omaha (2005).
Funding for the baseball museum comes mostly from individual donations and local fundraisers. In addition, the GCA Days celebration has become a reliable contributor to the daily operation.
The museum is proud of our major league players with Nebraska ties. Local volunteers enjoy development of the displays depicting their careers. We hope you'll come to see what we have and enjoy it as much as we do!
St. Paul Chamber of Commerce