Profiles of Valor
Warren Spahn’s pitching legacy began at a young age. Born in 1921, in Brooklyn, New York, Spahn’s pitching improved while at South Park High School. Spahn’s presence on the mound led the Sparks to back-to-back resounding victories in 1939 and 1940, before he signed with the Boston Braves for $80 a month in 1940.
Spahn posted convincing numbers with the Braves minor league affiliates, leading to his Major League promotion: four unremarkable appearances with the Braves in 1942.
At the end of the season, Spahn enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he pitched in the 1850th Service Unit baseball team at Camp Chaffee in Arkansas. With this unit, Spahn played among several future major and minor league stars. His deployment to the European theater in December 1944 landed him in the midst of the Battle of the Bulge. In March 1945, Spahn played a crucial role in the recapturing of the Ludendorff Bridge, the only surviving bridge over the Rhine River that was key to maintaining Allied troop movement into Germany. Wounded by shrapnel during his service, Spahn earned the Purple Heart and a Presidential Citation before being discharged as a First Lieutenant in 1946.
After the war, Spahn returned to the Boston Braves with new grown confidence. He had his first 20-win season in 1947, a Major League record for a left-handed pitcher. The span of Spahn’s career as a Braves outlasted the 1953 franchise move to Milwaukee, where Spahn played until 1964. He spent the 1965 season with the New York Mets, before officially retiring after twenty-one years in the league.
Spahn’s achievements on the field included 363 career wins, including thirteen 20+ win seasons, both Major League records for a left-handed pitcher. In 1957, Spahn won a World Series and the Cy Young award, given to the league’s best pitcher. Warren Spahn, a seventeen-time All- Star pitcher, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973 and was ranked
21st on The Sporting News’ “Baseball’s 100 Greatest Players” in 1999.