Ten years after Grover Cleveland Alexander retired, his widow was in dire financial straights as revealed here in a letter from Hall of Fame executive Warren Giles to Dodger VP Buzzie Bavasi.
Giles quotes a letter received from Mrs. Alexander as he writes, “Frankly I am desperate and hope you will see fit to help me. I am 66 years old and having a rough go of it, with neuritis and arthritis plus the news this week of a heart condition, along with being financially embarrassed for the moment. If and when I can be working again, I will not need help.”
I know the National League sent Alex $100 for some time, which was discontinued at his death…Mr. Giles, is there any way you can help me, perhaps temporarily? How little I ever dreamed I would have to ask for any help.”
Giles writes to Bavasi letting him know that the league and the Dodgers aren’t really going to help. “I don’t like to get the League involved on any monthly or annual welfare payments that we are not already committed for…While I realize she probably is in difficulty, I have doubt if her situation is “desperate” at the present time. The fact that she is asking for employment indicates she is able to do some work and inasmuch as you have nothing to offer possibly she will find something elsewhere.”
With today’s multi-million dollar contracts it is difficult to image poverty for the family of a 373-game winner. Alexander won over 20 games in nine seasons, leading the league six times.