Doubleday Double Talk Remembers is designed to connect fans with the game of baseball’s past one player and story at a time. A Doubleday Double Talk Remembers will be published every Friday and will go over the life and legacy of the players from our past, from Babe Ruth to Hank Aaron to Steve Dalkowski to Eddie Gaedel, every player has a story and Daryll Dorman and Giuseppe Vitulli are here to provide you with just that. Sometimes we forget about how important baseball’s past is, so Doubleday Double Talk Remembers is simply the writers at Doubleday Double Talk’s way to pay homage to the past of the beautiful game of baseball.
Warren Spahn was born April 23, 1921, in Buffalo, New York and would become one of the greatest pitchers to wear a Major League uniform. The left-hander was known as a very intelligent pitcher whose game was to outsmart hitters rather than overpower them. Spahn’ simple philosophy was that “Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing, ” and with this simple strategy, Spahn became one of the greatest left-handed pitchers of all-time.
Spahn broke into the Major Leagues with the Boston Braves in 1942, the same year he would go on to join the United States Army. Spahn would serve four years in the military, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and the taking of the bridge at Remagen. Spahn was awarded a Purple Heart for shrapnel wound and a battlefield commission.
The war hero would be discharged in 1946 and after a brief stint at the end of the 1946 season, Spahn would return to the Braves for a full season in 1947. What Spahn would do that year was incredible. In the 1947 season, Spahn would go 21-10, marking the first of 13 seasons in which Spahn won at least 20 games, a major league record for a left-handed pitcher. Spahn was also no slouch with the bat, still holding the National League record for home runs by a pitcher with 35.
“A pitcher needs two pitches – one they’re looking for and one to cross them up,” Spahn would fondly say and it is safe to say that he knew what he was talking about.
1947 would mark the beginning of a Hall of Fame career and Spahn would win at least 20 games a season 14 times in his career. Spahn would go on to be a 13-time All-Star, a Cy Young Award winner in 1957, and a World Series Champion in 1957. Spahn would compile at least 20 complete games a season 13 times in his career. Spahn led the league in ERA three times.
Spahn pitched well into his 40’s and even won 23 games as a 42-year-old, prompting fellow Hall of Famer Stan Musial to once half-jokingly say, “I don’t think Spahn will ever get into the Hall of Fame. He’ll never stop pitching.”
The 13-time All-Star compiled an unbelievable 363-245 record, after starting 665 games, completing 382, striking out 2,583 batters and finished his legendary career with a 3.09 ERA.
Warren Spahn was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 after garnering 82% of the votes with just 75% needed.
Spahn’s career can be summed up by a poem Braves fans became all too familiar with over the course of his career accompanied by star pitcher Johnny Sain.
“First we’ll use Spahn, then we’ll use Sain,
Then an off day, followed by rain.
Back will come Spahn, followed by Sain,
And followed, we hope, by two days of rain.”