Real name was Glover Cleveland Alexander, so he was named after a President and was played by a future President in a movie. Yes, Ronald Reagan played Alexander in a movie called “The Winning Team.” The movie was a biography of Alexander, Doris Day playing Alexander’s wife. It gets 6.5 stars out of 10 on IMDB, which is about right. It wasn’t a great movie but is was a solid movie as sports were concerned. Reagan did look like a athlete, but was too old to play Alexander when he first started out, as happens most of the time in these films. Doris Day is excellent in the movie. She doesn’t have as much impact as Teresa Wright has in Pride of the Yankees, but she gets to sing a song. OK, it is only “Old Saint Nickolas” and I think the song is cut off, but it was still an enjoyable moment. She played the naive wife well, telling the other wives, when a green rookie Alexander joins the Phillies that he is going to win 25 games. The other wives all laugh. No Phillie pitcher had one 25 in the 20th century to that point. Alexander goes on to win 28 that year and a few year later has 3 seasons in a row where he wins 30. Throw in the season before those 3 seasons and he won 121 games in 4 seasons quite a feat.
Of course, Ronald Reagan has the best line in the movie. He says, “So this is what it is like to be drunk”. Which was quite a line to hear from a future President. After Alexander supposedly gets drunk for the first time to help fight his epileptic attacks. Alexander was actually a war hero. He was wounded and exposed to nerve gas on the battlefield. After the war he came back and was still a great pitcher, but he was never as great as he was before the war.
After retirement Alexander pitched for the “House of David Baseball Team”. A religious baseball team that barnstorm (played going from town to town instead of having a home field). So did Satchel Paige at one point. All the players wore beards. From pictures it looked like the bigger the better. I believe Alexander and Paige wore fake beards.
When I was a kid, I read that Alexander won the last game of his career to break a tie of the National League record of most victories of a National League pitcher of 372. Alexander ended up at 373. However, later they found a mistake was made and Christy Mathewson also had 373 and they ended up tied. However, Alexander was a good sport about it. Well the story was entirely bull. Alexander didn’t win his last game. In his last year he was zero wins, three losses. Also, they probably didn’t know what either one of them had won. It would be interesting to know when these two great pitchers were tied. Most people will say Mathewson was the better pitcher. I have him as the 13th greatest pitcher, but I can see him being rated ahead of Alexander. I just decided to follow the numbers in this case.