Robert GroveRobert "Lefty" Grove became a 300-game winner by staying as consistent off the baseball field as on it.

His rules for success were simple: "Attend to business. Eat regularly, get at least eight hours' sleep — especially from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., when sleep is soundest — and observe moderate habits. Don't 'know it all' — give the other fellow credit for a little knowledge."

His discipline paid off. Grove (1900-75) had the lowest league earned run average nine times, which remains a major league record. An advocate of physical fitness, he won four of his ERA titles when he was past 35 years old, winning 97 games in that period.

A winner of 20 or more games in seven straight years, Grove had a career major league won-loss record of 300-141 while pitching for the Philadelphia Athletics (1925-33) and Boston Red Sox (1934-41). His .680 winning percentage is the best among 300-game winners.

Grove was named the 1931 American League Most Valuable Player and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947. He was selected to Major League Baseball's All-Century team in 1999.

A pitcher can be successful past age 35 if "he takes care of himself and trains properly. He can't, however, wait until he's passed his prime to become serious about the business of staying in shape," Grove said in "Lefty Grove: American Original," by Jim Kaplan.

Grove maintained his effectiveness on the mound by sticking to a routine. "I've followed practically the same schedule during my 16 years in the majors. I'm active on the ballfield every day during the season. Except on the afternoon I'm pitching, I chase flies in the outfield before every game. And I throw on the sidelines every (day) except the day I pitch," he said.

Grove was born in Lonaconing, Md., and grew up watching his father and older brothers make their living in the coal mines. He didn't want that for himself.

Grove's Keys

- Amassed a 300-141 record.
- "See that chalk mark on the barn door? I measured off 60 feet … and at 6 o'clock every morning I hit the chalk mark 20 times before I quit. Then I tramp the hills hunting and cover about 20 miles a day."

So he worked at his passion: baseball. On the mound, he had a well-earned reputation for fierceness.

"The guy was a winner. He gave the maximum effort every time out. … His rages were never directed toward the players, but toward himself. He was a competitor," said Red Sox teammate Bill Werber.

"You never talked to him on the mound," said A's teammate Jimmy Dykes. "No matter if he was ahead by 10 runs or behind by one, he was just plain fierce during a game."


article by Michael Mink from investors.com


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