Sain in 1953
Born: September 25, 1917|
Died: November 7, 2006 (aged 89)|
Downers Grove, Illinois
|April 24, 1942, for the Boston Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 15, 1955, for the Kansas City Athletics|
|Earned run average||3.49|
|Career highlights and awards|
John Franklin Sain (September 25, 1917 – November 7, 2006) was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who was best known for teaming with left-hander Warren Spahn on the Boston Braves teams from 1946 to 1951. He was the runner-up for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in the Braves' pennant-winning season of 1948, after leading the National League in wins, complete games and innings pitched. He later became further well known as one of the top pitching coaches in the majors.
Pitching star of post-war Boston Braves
Born in Havana, Arkansas, Sain pitched for 11 years, winning 139 games and losing 116 in his career and compiled an earned run average of 3.49. His best years were those immediately after World War II, when he won 100 games for the Boston Braves, before being traded to the New York Yankees during the 1951 season for Lew Burdette and cash.
In 1948, Sain won 24 games against 15 losses and finished second in the voting for the Most Valuable Player Award behind the St. Louis Cardinals' Stan Musial, who had won two legs of the Triple Crown. Sain and teammate Spahn achieved joint immortality that year when their feats were the subject of sports editor Gerald V. Hern's poem in the Boston Post which was eventually shortened to the epigram "Spahn and Sain; then pray for rain." According to the Baseball Almanac, the original doggerel appeared in Hern's column on September 14, 1948:
First we'll use Spahn
then we'll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
by two days of rain.
The poem was inspired by the performance of Sain and Spahn during the Braves' 1948 pennant drive. The team swept a Labor Day doubleheader, with Spahn throwing a complete game 14-inning win in the opener, and Sain pitching a shutout in the second game. Following two off days, it did rain. Spahn won the next day, and Sain won the day after that. Three days later, Spahn won again. Sain won the next day. After one more off day, the two pitchers were brought back, and won another doubleheader. The two pitchers had gone 8-0 in twelve days' time.
That year, the Boston Braves won their second and last National League pennant of the post-1901 era, but fell in six games to the Cleveland Indians in the 1948 World Series. Sain won the first game of the Series, a 1-0 shutout at Braves Field that included a memorable play in which Boston catcher Phil Masi was called safe after an apparent pickoff at second base. Masi went on to score the game's only run.
After retiring as a player, Sain spent many years as a well-regarded but outspoken pitching coach for the Athletics, Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves. During the 1960s, Sain coached the pitchers of five of the American League's ten pennant-winning teams.
An independent thinker among coaches, Sain tended to be admired by his pitchers, but he battled with at least two of his managers—Sam Mele of the Twins and Mayo Smith of the Tigers—when he disagreed with them. In each case, Sain was fired, but the manager's dismissal soon followed when his pitching staff suffered from Sain's absence. Sain did not make friends among owners and general managers, either, when he would advise pitchers to "climb those golden stairs" to their teams' front offices to demand more money in salary talks.
Jim Bouton, in his book Ball Four, expressed unreserved admiration for Sain, who had been his pitching tutor in New York during his first two Major League seasons, 1962 and 1963. Bouton openly wished to pitch for the 1969 Tigers in order to have a chance to again benefit from Sain's coaching.
Sain died at age 89 in Downers Grove, Illinois.
- List of Major League Baseball all-time saves leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual saves leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual wins leaders
- Pitcher of the Year Award
- (in a war relief game) Pitcher Johnny Sain, 89, Hurled His Way Into History
- Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season, p. 57, Jonathan Eig, Simon & Schuster, 2007, New York, ISBN 978-0-7432-9461-4
- Baseball Historian – Part of the Sports Historian Network Archived 2008-12-30 at the Wayback Machine.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- Johnny Sain at Find a Grave
- Cool of the Evening: The 1965 Minnesota Twins – Biography from author of 1965 Minnesota Twins' book
| Kansas City Athletics Pitching Coach
| New York Yankees Pitching Coach
| Minnesota Twins Pitching Coach
| Detroit Tigers Pitching Coach
| Chicago White Sox Pitching Coach
| Atlanta Braves Pitching Coach
Bruce Dal Canton