Haunted by his experiences in combat during World War I, Grover Cleveland Alexander was able to win 373 games during a 20-year major league career, the third-highest total in major league history. He led the league in ERA on four occasions, wins in six different seasons, completed games six times and shutouts during seven campaigns. Alexander also won 30 or more games three consecutive seasons.
Oh, did I mention that this three-time Cy Young Award-winner also had epilepsy.
The back story on this Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher is that during his days as a major league pitcher he would fain alcoholic blackouts during a game and had to be carried off the field by his manager and coaches. In reality he was gripped by a seizure.
In fact, Grover Cleveland Alexander was not an alcoholic, but an epileptic. At that time, he would have been checked into a mental institution because of the ignorant stigma attached to epilepsy at the time.
Well, some sports writers in the Twin Cities apparently are still operating on the premise that epilepsy is something shameful and the Minnesota Gopher’s head football coach Jerry Kill is someone who should be relegated to the dark shadows of society. Such primitive drivel was printed in the Star Tribune last Sunday.
What these desk jocks fail to realize is that the dark ages are history. (Perhaps that’s what the StarTribune’s sports columnist would prefer for Coach Jerry Kill.)
Epilepsy is not contagious. In fact, it seems as though Kill has garnered the support of his student/athletes and the school’s athletic director. Fans will not be scarred for life if Coach Kill happens to have another seizure.
If a three-time Cy Young Award winner can pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies (1911-1917, 1930), the Chicago Cubs (1918-1926), and the St. Louis Cardinals (1926- 1929) as an epileptic, I believe Coach Kill should be allowed to make his mark on Gopher football without bigoted, myopic dissing from the likes of Twin Cities sports “geniuses.” He deserves our admiration, not our disdain.