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Wednesday, October 05 2022 @ 05:29 am UTC
1960 Revisited - September 8   
By Bobster

Thursday, September 8, 1960---The Pirates were off as they awaited the Chicago Cubs. With Groat injured, Dick Barone, the shortstop for the AAA Columbus Jets, was added to the roster. The Pirates also had Gene Alley at Columbus. But he had spent most of the year at a lower minor league level and had played third base all season. So Barone got the call. Barone had batted only .204 at AAA during the season. He was a month shy of 28 years old and had never hit well in the minors. He would serve as a back-up for Schofield at shortstop. He would get into 2 games in September, starting one. These would be the only 2 major league games of Barone’s career.

Meanwhile, the Braves moved into a second-place tie with St.Louis, 6 games behind the Pirates. Warren Spahn (18-9) pitched the Braves past the Giants, 9-4 and hit his 3rd HR of the season. Spahn held the N.L. record for career HRs by a pitcher with 26. He would hit 35 before his career was over including at least 1 HR in 17 consecutive seasons. Twice he hit 4 HRs in a season (at ages 34 and 40). Spahn won 363 games in his career. And that was despite leaving MLB for 3 years to serve in the Army during WWII. Spahn was a Combat Engineer and was at the Battle of the Bulge. Describing his Army “teammates,” Spahn said, “"that was a tough bunch of guys. We had people that were let out of prison to go into the service. So those were the people I went overseas with, and they were tough and rough and I had to fit that mold." In March 1945, as his unit was trying to keep open the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen despite constant enemy fire, Spahn was wounded in the foot by shrapnel. Spahn received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He also received a battlefield commission to second-lieutenant. In 1969, the movie “The Bridge at Remagen” starring George Segal told the story of that battle. Spahn was not portrayed in the film. Spahn first appeared in the majors in 1942, appearing in 4 games for the Braves after winning 17 in A-ball that year. He spent the next 3 years in the Army and returned to MLB in 1946, going 8-5 with a 2.04 ERA. Spahn featured the high leg kick made famous later by Juan Marichal. The following year (1947), Spahn went 21-10 with a 2.33 ERA. Beginning with that year, 1947, Spahn had records in a 17-year consecutive span of:
21-11 (Cy Young winner in 1957)
22-11 (runner up for Cy Young in 1958)
21-10 runner up to Vern Law for Cy Young in 1960)
21-13 (runner up for Cy Young in 1961)
23-7 (at age 42)

He was a 14-time All-Star. He won the Cy Young award in 1957 and was the runner up for that award in 1958, 1960 and 1961 (at age 40). He won 82 games after age 40. That would be more than either Nolan Ryan or Roger Clemens would win after age 40. Compared to getting wounded fighting Germans with ex-cons, winning games and hitting home runs must have been a breeze for Spahn. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973 and died in 2003. He was a baseball hero and an American hero.

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