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"From the Coal Mines to Cooperstown"

Lefty Grove was born in the small coal mining town of Lonaconing, Md. on March 6th, 1900. His father, John, worked in the mines. As a child, Lefty honed his baseball skills in games held at First Field, in the Charlestown section of Lonaconing. A fence paling or a stick was often called into service as a bat, and baseballs were usually home made from yarn wrapped around a piece of cork, and wrapped in tape.

Lefty played in his first organized league with the nearby Midland team in 1919. Grove was recruited by the Martinsburg Mountaineers of the Class D Blue Ridge League in 1920, where he played only six games before being recruited by the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. Grove led the International League in strikeouts in each of his four full seasons with the Orioles, and the team won the pennant each year during Lefty's tenure. In 1925, Lefty began his professional career in earnest, when he signed with the Philadelphia Athletics. He led the league in strikeouts in each of his first seven years in the American League. He won the very first American League MVP trophy ever awarded by the Baseball Writer's Association of America in 1931, beating Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth to earn the award. The Athletics appeared in three consecutive World Series from 1929-1931, winning the first two of them. Grove was traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1934, where he stayed for the remainder of his major league career, retiring at the end of the 1941 season.

Lefty Grove returned to his hometown of Lonaconing each year, during the offseason. He lived there in retirement until his wife, Ethel, died in 1960. Lefty moved to Norwalk, OH in 1961, to live with his son and daughter in law. Grove died there on May 22nd, 1975, and is buried in Frostburg, MD.

Lefty leaves behind a long list of distinguishing career accomplishments. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947. During baseball's centennial celebration in 1969, he was named the left handed pitcher on the All Time All Star Team. In 1999, he was named to baseball's All Century Team. In the book Historical Baseball Abstract, author Bill James rated Lefty Grove as one of the twenty greatest players in baseball history. Many of the records that he set still stand today. Lefty is one of only 24 pitchers who have won 300 or more games. Of these 24, he still has the highest winning percentage. His nine American League ERA titles, including seven in a row, are both still records by a considerable margin.


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