He used to coach in Cleveland, too

If my family history is correct and I am indeed related to President Grover Cleveland, then, it turns out, I am also related to …

Bill Belichick.

Because he, according to an article in The Globe, is related to Grover Cleveland.

“Dear Uncle Bill, I sure could use some free tickets to the Patriots games this season. I know we’ve never met, but given that you, me and Grover are relatives, well, he can’t use the tickets because he’s dead, but I’m not, and I could sure use them. Four would be nice, then I could use two and sell the other two. For face value, of course.”

The problem is, I have no proof that I’m related to Grover Cleveland, nor can I be absolutely sure that the family tree somehow developed by my Uncle Richard somewhere in the late 1950s is accurate. Richard, like so many of us Clevelands, liked his drink, as my Irish relatives were wont to say, and it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that the cat he found to do the tree also liked his drink, and I can hear Richard saying, “Listen, this is a BORING family tree. Can we just, ya know, throw somebody interesting in there?”

Well, Grover Cleveland would have been a natural. Fortunately, no one was wasted enough to decide upon Grover Cleveland Alexander, although I find him, or found him – he’s dead, too – much more interesting than Grover Cleveland the prez.

Grover Cleveland Alexander was a pitcher, and he drank a lot of pitchers, and if you’ll hold on for a minute, I’ll run downstairs and get my Baseball Encyclopedia – I will NOT Google baseball stats when I have the encyclopedia; I’m not that lazy – and tell you more about him.

(Cue the Muzak!)

OK, I’m back. Sorry it took so long. I went to Market Basket to do the weekly shopping. Was the Muzak awful? Rhetorical question.

So, Grover Cleveland Alexander, nicknamed Pete, pitched from 1911 through 1930 with the Phillies, the Cubs (where Bill Veeck knew him), the Cardinals, then back to the Phillies to finish his career. He was in three World Series: with the Phillies in 1915, when he went 1-1 with a 1.53 ERA; with the Cardinals in 1926, when he went 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA; then with the Cards again in 1928, when he went 0-1 with a 19.80 ERA. His career record was 373-208 with a 2.56 ERA, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1938.

See what you can learn when you wonder who’s related to Bill Belichick?

Pete’s best year was with the Phillies in 1916, when he was 33-12 with a 1.55 ERA. He pitched 388.2 innings. Nowadays, if a pitcher hits 200 innings, he’s considered an iron man.

To steal a line from Sen. Chuck Shumer, today’s pitchers are “namby pamby,” even the ones who aren’t Democrats, and I suspect that’s most of them. Indeed, this is a namby-pamby world, which I suppose can be defended by saying:

“Oh, yeah? Well, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mom went to college with him and he won World War II.”

Yes, well, all right. Was Sara Roosevelt the first helicopter mom?

And he didn’t win the war all by himself, you know. Soldiers, sailors and flyers had a bit to do with it (people didn’t duck their duty back then, like some promient politicians we could name who got five deferments.) But yes, if anybody had to be president after Pearl Harbor, I’m glad it was Roosevelt. Lincoln would have been fine, too. And Teddy Roosevelt. Truman, too, yes.

Anyway, here I am on the Grover Cleveland Alexander page in my rather old Baseball Encyclopedia, and right above Pete is Doyle Alexander. Now, Doyle did not have a particularly brilliant career, although he did win 174 games while losing 145. His career ERA was OK at 3.66.

But he had that one magical part of a year, and remember along with me:

In late 1987, the Atlanta Braves shipped Doyle to the Tigers, who were fighting Toronto for the American League East crown. Doyle went 9-0 down the stretch in 11 starts for the Tigers, and Detroit won the East by two games. They also had Jack Morris and Frank Tanana, not too shabby, but it was Doyle who came in like the Lone Ranger and got them to the playoffs.

Oh, and the Braves didn’t do too badly in that trade. They got a minor league pitcher in return for Doyle Alexander – John Smoltz.

The Red Sox won 78 games that year.

Ah, memory lane. But what’s that got to do with my relation to Bill Belichick?

Well, besides our connection to Grover Cleveland the prez, we both like history, and I’ve just given you a little baseball history, and I’m pretty sure more than one of you will mail this piece to the Patriots and it will find its way to Cousin Bill and I’ll get a phone call and …

“You’re darn right I can return punts, Brother Bill, and I’ll do it for the league minimum, because that’s more money than my entire family will ever see in a lifetime, and can I have number 24? Yeah, Willie’s number. No: Mays. Bill? Bill? He hung up. Man, he is so off the family tree, if I ever get one made that doesn’t involve (maybe) a nip or two. Or six.”

Mike Cleveland is former editor of The Cabinet.

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