An unfortunate accident during recovery from an injury cost Dale Alexander his major league career. Given the fact that he had a .333 career average at the time of the injury, Alexander may have lost a chance at the Hall of Fame as well.
An oversized man, Alexander was known as “Moose” during his playing days. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in June of 1932 after getting off to a slow start and losing his starting job at first base. The 6’3 right-hander took off after the deal, however, hitting .372 after joining Boston. That season he batted an incredible .394 in Fenway Park, and as a result his overall .367 mark led the American League. Thus, Alexander became the first member of the Red Sox to win a batting crown and one of the few to win the title while playing for two teams.
In 1933 in a game against the A’s in Philadelphia on May 30, Alexander twisted his knee running the bases. The Boston trainer, Doc Woods, employed a diathermy treatment, which required heat application. During the treatment, Moose’s leg received third-degree burns. “It was a new method of treatment and not too much was known about it. I noticed my leg felt awfully hot,” Alexander said. “I ended up with third-degree burns and a gangrene infection and almost lost my leg. I was finished in the majors. I couldn’t run and I couldn’t field and when I got hurt, that was the end.”
Alexander missed almost all of July after the gangrene on his knee, but attempted to come back in August. He batted .206 in 27 games over the final eight weeks of the season and he was finished. In his final big league game, on September 23 at Fenway against the New York Yankees, Moose delivered a pinch-hit single but could barely run down the line to first base.
Showing his grit, Moose Alexander refused to give up the game completely. With a career .331 major league average, he was wooed by several minor league clubs. He suited up for the Newark Bears in the International League in 1934 and batted .336 as a first baseman. Though he had very little range and couldn’t run very well at all, Alexander played eight more seasons in the minor leagues, batting over .300 in every one but his last, when he was 39 years old. He hit .334 in 15 seasons in the minors, with more than 2,100 hits. With his big league success, it’s quite possible that had Moose not lost his legs he could have batted his way among the greats of the game.
Alexander was a scout for the New York and San Francisco Giants for 13 years (1951–1963) and for the Milwaukee Braves in 1964. Alexander died at his birthplace, Greeneville, Tennessee, at age 75 on March 2, 1979.