11/24/2003 6:54 PM ET
Looking back on Spahn's career
Former teammate Johnny Logan calls it a 'tough day'
MILWAUKEE -- On a dreary day in Milwaukee, Johnny Logan got the phone call he had been dreading for some time.
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, the winningest left-handed pitcher in Major League history and Logan's teammate on the great Boston and Milwaukee Braves teams of the 1950s, passed away Monday at his home in Broken Arrow, Okla. The 82-year-old was immortalized by the phrase, "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain," referring to the Boston Braves' great 1-2 punch of Spahn and right-hander Johnny Sain.
"Instead of rain, we got snow here on a cold Monday day," Logan said. "A tough day."
Logan, a four-time All-Star, manned shortstop behind Spahn for the Boston and Milwaukee Braves from 1951-1961. Logan still lives in Milwaukee, where he founded the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association and works to keep the memory alive of Spahn and other Braves greats in Wisconsin.
Spahn's son, Gregory, called Logan with the bad news. Logan said he planned to travel to Oklahoma to represent the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association at funeral services. The association honored Spahn with a dinner in his honor in 2002; this year they held a similar event for Hank Aaron.
"It was great to play behind him and know that we had a chance to win every ballgame," Logan said. "He was a 20-game winner for so long. I have to say that he was a man of ability, emotion and knowledge of hitters. He knew all of their weaknesses."
And he had quite a personality.
"He was a left-hander!" Logan said. "As a left-hander, you never knew what he was going to do. He was a pitcher's leader, and everybody respected him. He would talk, and then he would produce. Everybody said, 'Oh, we gotta listen to this guy.'"
Is there anybody in today's game like him?
"I've got a feeling he's like [Curt] Schilling, kind of hard-nosed," Logan said. "Spahnie would joke around when he wasn't pitching, but when it was his turn it was business. I remember times when the bases were loaded or it was a crucial moment, and [Braves manager] Fred Haney would approach the pitcher's mound. Spahnie would say, 'What do you want?'
"Haney said, 'Are you gonna get this guy out?' Spahnie would say, 'I'm not going to depend on my relievers to do it! I'll get him out.'"
Spahn won at least 20 games in nine of his 12 seasons in Milwaukee, including a 23-7 season as a 42-year-old in 1963, and remains one of Wisconsin's most revered sports figures. He was the National League Cy Young Award winner in 1957, the year Milwaukee won its only World Series, and led the Braves back to the Series in 1958. Spahn is a member of baseball's All-Century Team and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
His presence highlighted closing ceremonies at Milwaukee County Stadium in September 2000, where he commented, "This has been a part of my life. I came here as a young man, and I'm leaving as an old man."
"He was a well-liked individual," Logan said, "and well-respected."
Logan said Gregory Spahn told him funeral services were tentatively set for Saturday afternoon.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.