An Oklahoma resident since 1946, Warren Edward Spahn was the most successful left-handed pitcher in baseball history with 363 victories over twenty-one years. Born in New York on April 23, 1921, Spahn has a place in the folklore of major league baseball. During the final weeks of the 1948 National League pennant race, Spahn and right-hander Johnny Sain were asked to pitch every three days for the Boston Braves. That inspired a baseball reporter to write, "Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, and then, Oh Lord, a day of rain." The Braves won the pennant, and "Spahn, Sain, and Rain" became part of baseball's legends. Spahn went on to win twenty games thirteen times, including six years in a row. He pitched two no-hitters and won the Cy Young Award in 1957. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 and the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Spahn grew up in Buffalo, New York, and pitched for the Boston Braves in 1942 before entering the U.S. Army. He served with distinction and was part of a force that held the famous bridge over the Rhine River at Remagen. During the war he served at Camp Gruber in eastern Oklahoma and met the woman he married. They bought a ranch near Hartshorne.
He returned from the service to pitch for the Boston Braves, which became the Milwaukee Braves. He led the Milwaukee Braves to the 1957 World Series championship. He pitched sixty-three shutouts and struck out 2,583 batters. He led the major leagues in victories eight times and in complete games nine times. He also set an all-time record of thirty-five home runs for a pitcher. He pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 1964 and the New York Mets in 1965 before retiring to his ranch near Hartshorne.
The Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame now presents the annual Warren Spahn Award to the most outstanding left-hander in the major leagues.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bob Burke, Kenny A. Franks, and Royce Parr, Glory Days of Summer: The History of Baseball in Oklahoma (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1999). "Warren Spahn," Vertical File, Archives, Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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