Warren Spahn had done nearly everything else in 1957, including leading the Milwaukee Braves to the World Series title.
Fifty-five years ago this week – on Nov. 28, 1957 – Spahn collected the ultimate pitcher’s hardware: Winning the Cy Young Award.
Spahn was in his 12th full big league season in 1957, and posted a spectacular 21-11 record – leading the majors in wins – with a 2.69 earned-run average and 18 complete games. The Braves won their first National League pennant since moving to Milwaukee, and it marked just the third modern-era flag in Braves history.
In the World Series, Spahn was 1-1 – including a key Game 4 victory in which Spahn pitched all 10 innings in Milwaukee’s 7-5 win over the American League champion Yankees.
The Braves went on to win the Fall Classic in seven games.
In the Cy Young voting, Spahn received 15 of the 16 votes for an award that was given to the top pitcher in baseball, regardless of league. The White Sox’s Dick Donovan received the only other vote.
“For the long haul, for year-after-year performance, Warren Spahn was the best I ever saw,” said former Dodgers ace Johnny Podres. “He was just a master of his trade. When he was out there, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Watching him was an education. You know, the guy pitched over 20 years and hardly ever missed a turn. I don’t think he knew what a sore arm was.”
Spahn’s 21-win season marked his eighth campaign with 20-or-more victories – and yet the 36-year-old left-hander still had five more seasons of at least 20 wins to go before his career ended in 1965. Spahn never won another Cy Young Award, but finished second in 1958, 1960 and 1961 – all before the advent of a Cy Young winner in each league was instituted in 1967.
“I don’t think Spahn will ever get into the Hall of Fame,” said future Hall of Fame teammate Stan Musial. “He’ll never stop pitching.”
In 21 big league seasons, Spahn won 363 games – still a record for left-handers – and posted a 3.09 ERA, leading his league victories eight times. He was named to 17 All-Star Games.
Spahn was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973. He passed away on Nov. 24, 2003.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum