Early Wynn, Washington Senators
Early Wynn Jr. (January 6, 1920 – April 4, 1999), nicknamed “Gus”, was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) right-handed pitcher. He pitched for the Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians, and Chicago White Sox during his 23-year major league career. He was identified as one of the most intimidating pitchers in the game with his powerful fastball combined with a hard attitude towards batters. Wynn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
Wynn was born in Alabama and signed with the Senators at the age of 17, deciding to pursue baseball instead of finishing high school. He spent a couple of seasons in the minor leagues, had a brief major league stint in 1939, returned to the major leagues in 1941 and pitched his first full MLB season in 1942. He missed the 1945 MLB season and a portion of the next season while serving in the United States Army during the latter part of World War II.
Wynn was a member of one of baseball’s best pitching rotations along with Bob Feller, Mike Garcia, and Bob Lemon, while with the Indians in the mid-1950s. He won the 1959 Cy Young Award, beginning to rely on the knuckleball as the velocity of his pitches declined. Wynn retired in 1963. He finished with exactly 300 career wins; he had spent several months in pursuit of his 300th win.
Wynn served as a coach and broadcaster in the major leagues after his retirement as a player. In 1999, he was included on The Sporting News list of the 100 greatest players in baseball history. He died that year in an assisted living facility following heart related problems and a stroke.
From Baseball in Wartime:
Early Wynn was born on January 6, 1920 in Hartford, Alabama. He was signed by the Washington Senators in 1937 and sent to Sanford in the Florida State League where he had a 16-11 record and 3.41 ERA.
Pitching for Charlotte in the Piedmont League in 1938, he was 10-11 and was 15-14 the following year with a 3.96 ERA earning a promotion to the Senators in September. The 19-year-old made three starts before the year was over and finished 2 and 0.
Wynn returned to Charlotte in 1940 and was with Springfield in the Eastern League in 1941, making a further five starts for Washington with a 3-1 record and impressive 1.58 ERA. Wynn was on the Senators’ starting rotation in 1942 and was 10-16. In 1943, he was 18-12 for the second-place Senators and led the American League with 33 starts. However, in 1944, the Senators slumped to last place and Wynn was 8-17 leading the league in losses.
On August 21, 1944, Wynn was extracted from the gloom of the Senators’ losing campaign and inducted into military service with the Army at Fort Myer, Virginia. Private Wynn initially took 17 weeks training at the Armored Replacement Training Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he married Lorraine Follin on September 12, 1944. Miss Follin was working with the Red Cross at Fort Knox. He was later posted the Philippines where he played baseball with Kirby Higbe’s Base 30 Manila Dodgers. The Manila Dodgers had such a vast pitching staff that Wynn – who was pretty good at wielding a bat – often played shortstop.
After 23 months, Wynn was discharged at Camp Meade, Maryland on July 5, 1946. He returned to the Senators and was 8-5 in 17 starts with a 3.11 ERA.
Wynn was traded to the Cleveland Indians in December 1948 and became a 20-game in 1951. He went on to enjoy a further four 20-win seasons, was five-time American League all-star selection and won the Cy Young Award at the age of 39 in 1959.
Wynn’s major league career ended in 1963 with the Indians when he won his 300th game. After his playing career ended, Wynn was pitching coach for the Indians and Minnesota Twins. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
He was a broadcaster for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977 to 1980, and in 1982 and 1983, he was a radio and television broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox.
Early Wynn passed away in Venice, Florida on April 4, 1999. He was 79.