Burleigh Grimes was a 5'10" right handed spitball specialist from Emerald, Wisconsin. Born on August 18, 1893, he made his first professional appearance with the Class "D" Eau Claire Commissioners of the Minnesota-Wisconsin League, collecting a 4-4 record with a 3.52 ERA in 1912. 1913 would see him split the season between the Ottumwa Packers of the Class "D" Central Association (6-2, 1.93)and the "A" level Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association (6-7, 3.29).
Grimes spent the majority of the 1914 season with the "C" level Richmond Colts of the Virginia League (23-13, 2.43), earning a look with the "A" level Birmingham Barons in the Southern Association (0-2, 6.97). He would stick with the Barons through the entirety of the 1915 season (17-13, 2.04) and part of 1916 (20-11, 2.02). His mettle proved, the Pirates picked him up near the end of the season. He completed four of his five starts (with one relief appearance) in September for Pittsburgh, racking up a 2-3 record. He collected a 1.095 WHIP, a H/9 ratio of 7.9, and a 2.36 ERA in his limited engagement. His big league ticket was punched.
1917 would see Grimes pitch in 37 contests, going 3-16 with a 3.53 ERA. He allowed 186 hits in 194 innings with a 1.320 WHIP. The Pirates finished with an NL worst 51-103 record, 47 games out of the pennant and 20.5 behind the next worst team, the Brooklyn Robins. Prior to the 1918 season, Grimes was traded away. According to his Sabr.org biography:
In January 1918 the Pirates traded their brilliant but erratic young pitching star Al Mamaux to the Brooklyn Dodgers for the popular Casey Stengel and aging second baseman George Cutshaw. Pittsburgh also gave up Burleigh Grimes, described as another pitcher, and Chuck Ward, an infielder, but Mamaux was clearly the headliner in the deal. During the remainder of his major league career the main man Mamaux won a total of 27 games. In contrast, the throw-in Grimes won 265 during his long career in "The Show."
Out of the seven total teams that Grimes eventually wound up playing for, he spent the most time in Brooklyn. He earned a 158-121 record with a 3.46 ERA over nine seasons, pitching 205 complete games and 20 shutouts. While a member of the Robins, he led the NL in wins (22 in 1921), in games started (38 in 1923 and 36 in 1924), in complete games (30 in 1921 and 1924, 33 in 1923), and innings pitched (327 in 1923 and 310.2 in 1924). He went 1-2 for Brooklyn in the 1920 World Series, as the Cleveland Indians took the Championship, five games to two.
Grimes spent the 1927 season with the New York Giants, accruing a 19-8 record with a 3.54 ERA. He finished 18th in the season ending NL MVP Award vote, allowing 274 hits in 259.2 innings pitched. He didn't mesh well with Giants skipper s John McGraw and Rogers Hornsby. This resulted in his getting traded just prior to 1928 spring training to the Pirates for Vic Aldridge.
In Grimes first season back with the Corsairs (and third overall), he led the National League with 25 wins (25-14 overall), 48 total games, 37 starts, 28 complete games, four shutouts, 330.2 innings pitched, and 1,377 batters faced. He finished the season third in the NL MVP voting, ranking eighth in the league with a 2.99 ERA. On June 26th, in game one of a doubleheader, he allowed one walk and four hits, striking out six in a complete game shutout win over the Chicago Cubs, 1-0. He also went 3-of-4 from the dish, plating the only run with a single in the seventh. Despite Grimes career year, the Pirates finished fourth in the NL with an 85-67 record, nine games out of first and behind the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants, and the Cubs.
In 1929, Grimes Went 17-7 with a NL second best 3.13 ERA. His 154 ERA+ led the National League. His stats powered him to fourth in the year end NL Most Valuable Player voting. He won his first 10 decisions before suffering a loss, including a 4-0 win over the Cubs on May 30th, in game two of a doubleheader. He allowed seven hits and a walk, striking out three. The Pirates missed the pennant by 10.5 games, finishing at 88-65, behind the Cubs.
Just prior to the 1930 season, the Pirates traded Grimes to the Boston Braves for Percy Jones and an undisclosed sum of cash. After going 3-5 with a 7.35 ERA in 11 games for Boston, he went on to play for the St. Louis Cardinals (32-17, 3.45), the Chicago Cubs (9-17, 4.35), and the New York Yankees (1-2, 5.50). He resigned for a third tour of duty with the Pirates after the Bombers granted him his unconditional release, on July 31, 1934.
Grimes closed out the season and his career with the Pirates that season. He went 1-2 with a 7.24 ERA. He continued to be involved in professional baseball, as a manager and a scout for the next 35 seasons . Please, follow the link below to read a VERY in-depth retrospective of the Burleigh one.
All-Time Statline: Five seasons, 48-42, 3.26 ERA, 132 games, 92 starts, 34 CG, seven shutouts, 830.1 innings pitched, 818 hits allowed, walked 237, struck out 260, 1.271 WHIP, 11.7 wins above replacement.