More from Christy Mathewson's 1912 Pitching in a Pinch:
But the ideal way to break a star into the Big League is that which marked the entrance of Grover Cleveland Alexander, of the Philadelphia club. The Cincinnati club had had its eye on Alexander for some time, but "Tacks" Ashenbach, the scout, now dead, had advised against him, declaring that he would be no good against "regular batters." Philadelphia got him at the waiver price and he was among the lot in the newspapers marked "Those who also joined." He started out in 1911 and won two or three games before anyone paid any attention to him. Then he kept on winning until one manager was saying to another: "That guy, Alexander, is a hard one to beat."
He had won ten or dozen games before it was fully realized that he was a star. Then he was so accustomed to the Big League he acted as if he had been living in it all his life, and there was no getting on his nerves. When he started, he had everything to gain and nothing to lose. If he didn't last, the newspapers wouldn't laugh at him, and the people wouldn't say: "$11,000, or $22,500, for a lemon." That's the dread of all ball players.
Such is the psychology of introducing promising pitchers into the Big Leagues. The Alexander route is the ideal one, but it's hard to get stars now without paying enormous prices for them. Philadelphia was lucky.
There is another element which enters into the form of athletics. Tennis players call it nervousness, and ball players, in the frankness of the game, call it a "yellow streak." It is the inability to stand the gaff, the weakening in the pinches. It is something ingrained in a man that can't be cured. It is the desire to quit when the situation is serious. It is different from stage fright, because a man may get over that, but a "yellow streak" is always with him. When a new player breaks into the League, he is put to the most severe test by the other men to see if he is "yellow." If he is found wanting, he is hopeless in the Big League, for the news will spread, and he will receiver no quarter. It is the cardinal sin in a ball player.
Tags: Mathewson, pinch