Early Wynn is honored by the Foundation this week for his commitment to the United States Army and his talented baseball career. His service in the Army did not hinder him from becoming a baseball success.
He signed with the Washington Senators in 1937 and started in the Florida State League before moving to the Piedmont League for Charlotte in 1938. He earned a promotion that year and made his debut with the Senators in September.
He returned to Charlotte for the 1939 and 1940 seasons and played for Springfield in the Eastern League in 1941. He finally returned to the Senators as a starting pitcher in 1942, and, in 1943, he led the American League in starts with 33. His baseball career was put on hold when he entered the United States Army in 1944 at Fort Myer, Virginia and then went onto Fort Knox, Kentucky for training. This is where Early met his future wife, Lorraine Follin, who was working with the Red Cross.
After training, Wynn was sent to the Philippines. While not experiencing the same caliber of baseball that he did in the Major Leagues, he did play baseball with Kirby Higbe’s Base 30 Manila Dodgers. He was not only a pitcher but often switched to shortstop.
On July 5, 1946, Wynn was discharged while at Camp Meade in Maryland. He returned to the Senators before being traded in 1948 to the Cleveland Indians. While with the Indians, he teamed up with Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, and Mike García to give the team one of the best rotations in baseball. He was a four-time 20 game winner from 1951-56 and won an MLB best with 23 wins in 1954, when the Indians captured the American League pennant. He was a five-time American League All-Star and won the Cy Young Award in 1959.
His playing career came to an end after winning his 300th game in 1963 and that assured him of being known as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game. After retiring as a player, Wynn served as the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins. He eventually entered the world of broadcasting, serving as the Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster for three years and the radio and television broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox. In 1972, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Early Wynn sacrificed the beginning of his Major League years to serve his country in the United States Army during World War II. The Foundation honors him for this sacrifice, as well as the legacy he left behind.