Thursday, November 9th, 2006
10:02 pm - Spahn, Sain, and Pray for Rain...  
Spahn & Sain

First we'll use Spahn
then we'll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
And followed
we hope
by two days of rain.

-- Gerald V. Hern

Sain and BoutonBack in the day, when my best friend Richie and I used to play All Star Baseball under the maple tree in my backyard, one or the other of us would almost always pick Johnny Sain to pitch for our team. To be honest, I knew nothing about Sain as a pitcher. He'd retired when I was two. What I did know, based on his ASB disk, was that he'd been a heck of a hitter for a pitcher. Each player in ASB was represented by a disk that fitted over a spinner. You spun, and the outcome of the at bat depended on which numbered arc the spinner ended up in. (If it was on a line, we called "foul ball" and spun again.) The size of the arcs were based upon the players' actual stats. Sain didn't have much power (homers were "1"), but he hit a ton of singles ("7" and "13"). Plus, he hardly ever struck out ("10"). You really couldn't ask much more from a pitcher in a game in which pitching had absolutely no effect on the outcome.

When I got older, I read Ball Four, in which Jim Bouton sang Sain's praises as a pitching coach. (We had Bouton in ASB, too, but he hardly ever got in. I mean, look at all those frelling 10's.) Everyone who worked with him seemed to think he was the best pitching coach in the game. Leo Mazzone, probably the best pitching coach in baseball today, was a pupil.

Johnny Sain passed away Tuesday at 89. He was a terrific pitcher, a terrific coach, and a pretty decent hitter, too. Rest in peace.
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gchickgchick on November 10th, 2006 - 03:11 am
I've heard the Spahn and Sain poem, but I never knew much about the guy beyond that -- thanks for the tribute, and I'm sad to hear about his passing. I've always been a sucker for lots of singles and not many K's.
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