||This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
Wynn in 1960.
January 6, 1920|
|Died: April 4, 1999
|Batted: Switch||Threw: Right|
|September 13, 1939 for the Washington Senators|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 13, 1963 for the Cleveland Indians|
|Earned run average||3.54|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||76% (fourth ballot)|
Early Wynn Jr. (January 6, 1920 – April 4, 1999), nicknamed "Gus", was a Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. During a 25-year baseball career, he pitched for the Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
Armed with a blazing fastball and a hard-nosed attitude, during his career he was identified as one of the most intimidating pitchers in the game. Wynn once averred that if he was in a tight situation, with men in scoring position and the game in the balance, he would deck his own mother if she was the batter.
Early Wynn was born in Hartford, Alabama, the son of Early Sr. and Blanche Wynn. His durability helped him lead the American League in innings three times (1951, 1954, 1959) and propelled him to an AL record for most years pitched (23). Wynn won an even 300 games, highlighted by five 20-win seasons, 2,334 strikeouts, 290 complete games, 49 shutouts, and 4,556 innings pitched in 691 games.
In a book titled "Spirit of St. Louis" a former St. Louis Browns player named Ellis Clary was recapping his career and mentioned that he was playing for the Birmingham Barons, an independent team in the Southern League, a 17-year old Early Wynn showed up for a tryout in Florida in a T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans and a Coca-Cola cap. He said he could play; they said, "We'll find out."
Wynn signed with the Senators at age 17, and after only three appearances in 1939 he blossomed in 1941, winning 72 games before being dealt to Cleveland in December 1948. The Indians' pitching coach and former star pitcher Mel Harder, taught him how to throw a curveball, slider, changeup and knuckleball. Wynn assimilated Harder's lessons easily, and after his '49 season adjustment, the next year he won 18 games and led the AL with a 3.20 ERA. In 1950 he had his first 20-win season. By this time he had become part of a strong pitching staff, forming – with Bob Feller, Bob Lemon and Mike Garcia – one of the greatest pitching rotations in baseball history. Wynn was traded to the White Sox after the '57 season. In 1954, he posted a 2.73 ERA, won 23 games and struck out 155 batters.
In 1958 Wynn became the first major league pitcher to lead his league in strikeouts in consecutive years with different teams (184 with Cleveland, 189 with Chicago), and he won the Cy Young Award in 1959 at the age of 39, posting a record of 22–10, with 179 strikeouts and a 3.16 ERA to lead the Sox to the pennant. He was the third oldest MLB pitcher to win 20 games in a season, following Cy Young and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
In this decade Wynn had more strikeouts (1,544) than any other pitcher in the majors, and he was capable with the bat as well. A switch hitter, Wynn batted .214 (365 for 1704), with 17 home runs and 173 RBI, with 90 pinch-hit appearances including a grand slam, making him one of five MLB pitchers to clear the bases as a pinch-hitter.
Widely known as a pitcher with a mean disposition (or at least as a pitcher who cultivated that image), Wynn threw at batters frequently enough to be labeled a "headhunter." He once stated: "I'd knock down my own grandmother if she dug in on me." He also said to reporters: "Why I should worry about hitters? Do they worry about me? Do you ever find a hitter crying because he's hit a line drive through the box? My job is getting hitters out. If I don't get them out I lose. I don't like losing a game any more than a salesman likes losing a big sale. I've got a right to knock down anybody holding a bat."
When he was then asked whether he would have the same opinion if the batter were his own mother, he paused and responded, "Mother was a pretty good curveball hitter."
In fact, when Wynn was with the Indians, he actually threw a pitch at his own 15-year-old son, Joe. Wynn was throwing pre-game batting practice to Joe, and Joe hit two long drives in a row. Ushers in the nearly empty stadium began to clap. Moments later, Joe was lying flat on his back in the batting cage, frightened by his father's knockdown pitch. Wynn said later, "He was leaning in on me, and I had to show him who was boss."
Whenever an opposing batter would line one of his pitches back toward the mound, Wynn would retaliate by throwing a brushback pitch at the batter the next time the batter faced him. In 1962, when Wynn was with the White Sox, he was throwing batting practice and his teammate Joe Cunningham hit a line drive that missed Wynn by inches. Wynn responded by throwing three straight pitches under his teammate's chin.
Wynn also made it his personal practice that, whenever one of his teammates was knocked down by an opposing pitcher, Wynn would retaliate by knocking down two of the opposing pitcher's teammates.
According to Rod Carew, he learned when Wynn came to Minnesota as a coach, his competitiveness didn't end when his career did. "Early would knock you down in batting practice. If you hit a ball good off of him, he'd knock you down and then challenge you. He told you to expect it when you stepped in the cage against him.
Early Wynn returned to Cleveland in 1963 for a last run. In that season, he won his 300th game, after failing to collect the milestone win in seven starts over nine months in 1962–63. Both the timeframe and the number of attempts are the longest between any pitcher's 299th and 300th wins in history. At the end of his career, Wynn had simply lost his stuff. Opposing Kansas City batter Ed Charles recalled Wynn's 300th win: "His fastball, if it reached 80, that was stretching it. He was laboring, throwing nothing but bloopers and junk." Nonetheless, Wynn left the game after five innings, and the bullpen preserved the victory, Wynn's last. Said Wynn, "I was exhausted."
Upon his retirement in 1963, Wynn was the last major leaguer to have played in the 1930s to still be playing. He became one of only 29 players in baseball history to date to have appeared in Major League games in four decades.
Wynn became the pitching coach for the Indians in 1964, where he coached Sam McDowell, Sonny Siebert, Luis Tiant, Steve Hargan, and others, who were to set the American League team record for strikeouts in a season in 1967.
Wynn was the pitcher who allowed the most home runs in Mickey Mantle's career (13). From 1977 to 1980, he provided the color commentary for radio broadcasts of Toronto Blue Jays games, working alongside Tom Cheek. He also provided color commentary for Chicago White Sox radio broadcasts for a while.
According to the Baseball Reference website (www.baseball-reference.com), Wynn is the "most linkable" player in baseball history. (This means that, if a value of 1 is assigned to any player Wynn played on the same team with, and a value of 2 assigned to any player who played on the same team with a player with a value of 1, and so on, and the mean value is found by considering each player in baseball history, Wynn's value is lower than any other player's.)
See also 
- 300 win club
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
- List of Major League Baseball ERA champions
- List of Major League Baseball strikeout champions
- List of Major League Baseball wins champions
- List of Major League Baseball all-time leaders in home runs by pitchers
- List of Major League Baseball players who played in four decades
- List of top 100 Major League Baseball strikeout pitchers
- Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo, The Baseball Hall of Shame 2, page 124 (1986).
- Roger Kahn, Golden Triumphs, Tarnished Dreams, Sports Illustrated (August 30, 1976). Retrieved on April 17, 2012.
- Nash and Zullo, supra, at page 123. In Roger Kahn's version of the incident, the knockdown pitch occurred after Joe hit one long drive, and Wynn then said to his son, "You shouldn't crowd me." See Roger Kahn, Golden Triumphs, Tarnished Dreams, Sports Illustrated (August 30, 1976). Retrieved on April 17, 2012.
- Nash and Zullo, supra, at page 123.
- The Twins at the Met, 2009, Beaver's Pond Press, Edina, Minnesota, page 86
- "100 Greatest Baseball Players by The Sporting News : A Legendary List by Baseball Almanac". Baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- Early Wynn at the Baseball Hall of Fame
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- The Top 100 Greatest Indians Roster
- 1954 Cleveland Indians season
|Awards and achievements|
|American League ERA Champion
|American League Wins Champion
1954 (with Bob Lemon)
Ford, Lemon & Sullivan
Estrada & Perry
|American League Strikeout Champion
|Cy Young Award