At a tryout camp in Sanford, Florida
for the Washington Senators in 1936, a chunky 17 year old kid, with a
tattered glove at his side, announced he was a pitcher. After a few pitches,
the youngster was signed to a Class D contract for $100 a month and a
one dollar a day meal stipend. He quickly picked up the nickname "Gus"
simply because someone said, "he looks like a Gus".
He made his major-league debut in 1939, pitching late-season games for
the Senators, where he and the team struggled. However, it was not long
until his talent was paying off. He went to the Indians on December 14,
1948. Here he developed his pitching skills beyond his standard fast ball.
In only his second year, he had the best earned run average in the
American League. Gus went on to win 20 or more games five times during his career, his
first in 1951. In 1958, Wynn became the first ML pitcher
to lead his league in strikeouts in consecutive years with different teams.
He helped both Cleveland and the White Sox to the only pennants of the
1950s not won by the Yankees. In 1959, his 22nd season in professional baseball, he won his only Cy Young award (then given to the best pitcher in Major League Baseball). He reached the 300 win plateau on July 13,
1963 at the age of 43. He had played in poor health for the previous few
years in order to reach this sought-after elusive goal.
His skill was not confined to the pitching mound. Gus had a lifetime
batting average of .214 (with 365 total hits-10th overall among pitchers),
hitting 17 home runs (19th overall among pitchers) and 173 RBI. His baseball
career was culminated by his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
Wynn passed away on April 4, 1999 in Venice, Florida.
With his amazing pitching prowess, surprising batting skills as well as his legendary
tough as nails personality, Early Wynn made himself a true
legend in America's pastime.