Warren Spahn: A Celebration of Life and a HOF Legacy


Warren Spahn would have turned 99 today. The Hall of Fame lefty was traded to the New York Mets in November 1964, and he spent one-half of the 1965 season pitching for New York before they traded him to the San Francisco Giants. In his short stint with the Mets, at age 44, Spahn recorded a 4-12 record. The day after the trade from Milwaukee to New York, Newsday published a story on Spahn. Click the link below to read the story in its entirety.

Spahn was labeled the “ageless wonder.” Every season from 1956-1961, he won 20+ games for the Milwaukee Braves including his first no-hitter in 1960 and his 300th career win in 1961.

“This is ridiculous,” he said after his no-hitter. “A fellow my age shouldn’t be pitching no hitters.”

Spahn won 167 games from age 36 to age 43 and made the National League All-Star team all seven seasons. During that span he pitched in 301 games (276 starts) and compiled 2,193 innings pitched, 1, 023 strike outs and 28 complete games. Spahn never pitched fewer than 262 innings during that seven-year period.

“He had the best control you’d ever seen,” said former Mets catcher Sammy Taylor. “You’d put your mitt up there and you wouldn’t have to move it. He could throw the ball within inches of where he wanted it.”

Hawk Taylor caught Spahn in both Milwaukee and New York said: “I remember his pinpoint control. He’d said, ‘Put your glove on the outside corner,’ or ‘Put the glove on the inside corner’ and you could just about close your eyes and catch him.”

Spahn never seemed to be wowed by his own control. “I spent my life throwing a baseball 60 feet, 6 inches. Why shouldn’t I be able to control it.”

Spahn eventually showed signs of slowing down. In 1964, in 38 starts his record was 6-13 with an ERA that ballooned to 5.29. The Braves believed Spahn was done, but the future Hall of Famer, refused to give up. Milwaukee suggested Spahn retire and offered him a choice of jobs: broadcasting, minor league pitching coach or managerial position. Spahn requested a trade and the organization obliged, selling his contract to the New York Mets where he took a pay cut and a role as pitcher/coach.

“Spahnie won’t win six games for the Mets,” said then Milwaukee manager Bobby Bragan.

When he arrived in New York, Spahn was confident that he could still win 20 games for the Mets. “I still think I can win 20. Who knows? Who knows what the 10th place club will be like?”

Spahn made his first start with the Mets on April 14, 1965 at Shea Stadium against the Houston Astros. He pitched well, throwing eight innings and allowing three runs in a no-decision. The Mets lost the game, 7-6, in 11 innings.

Six days later, in his second start at Chavez Ravine against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Spahn looked like the pitcher, or the old pitcher, throwing a complete game to lead the Mets to a 3-2 win.

But Spahn wobbled through the next three months with the Mets, finishing with a 4-12 record. His last start came on July 10 against the Astros. Spahn only made it through the first and two batters in the second inning, allowing four runs and six hits, before being lifted, and eventually traded, to the Giants a week later.

In 20 starts for the Mets, Spahn compiled a a 4-12 win-loss record and 4.36 ERA.

Bragan was right.

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National League baseball in New York was redefined on March 6, 1961 when the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club Inc. formally received a certificate of membership from leave president Warren Giles. Of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs today, the case could be made that no other team has a more compelling franchise history than the New York Mets. From Casey Stengel to Yogi Berra, Marv Throneberry to Tom Seaver, Willie Mays, Tug McGraw, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Bobby Valentine, Pedro Martinez and Matt Harvey, the Mets are loaded with character(s). Then there are the Amazin’ seasons — 1962, 1969, 1973, 1986, 2000, 2006-2008 and 2015 — full of miracles, joy, hope and heartbreak. Mets Rewind is designed for that purpose: To share team history in a distinct and entertaining format. We hope you — the baseball fan — enjoy the content. We encourage you to share your memories.
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