Early Wynn won his 100th, 200th,
and 300th victories in a
Cleveland Indians uniform.
Early Wynn was born in Hartford, Alabama (1920-1999). His father was an area semipro ballplayer. Early helped lift 500-pound bales of cotton for a dime an hour after school. At age 17, he signed a pro contract with the Senators after attending a tryout camp. He worked often in the minor leagues, though he wasn’t overly impressive. Although he pitched three games for the Senators in 1939, he didn’t stay in the bigs until 1941. He produced one good year with Washington, 1943, when he went 18-12 with a 2.91 ERA.
After compiling a 72-87 record in eight frustrating years in Washington, Wynn joined the Cleveland Indians in 1949 and changed the course of his career. In 1951, he won 20 games for the first time. He then won 23 in 1952, a league-leading 23 in 1954, and 20 in 1956.
With the Indians he became a member of a legendary pitching staff, as he joined with Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia, Art Houtteman, and Bob Feller on the 1954 squad. That year -- his third 20-win season in four years -- Wynn led the league with 23 wins. The frustrated Senators’ pitcher had become a star. Wynn had nine winning records in the 10 years he pitched in Cleveland.
Wynn was among the meanest head-hunters in the game; calling home plate his office, he would not hesitate to move batters off the plate. “Gus” would also throw at a man on first base if he felt the need, disguising the beanball as a pick-off throw. He once said he would knock down his own grandmother if she dug in against him.
In Cleveland he learned control, pitching patterns, and a curveball from Mel Harder. Wynn’s strikeout totals rocketed, and his 1,544 were the most Ks in the 1950s. He was still wild though, and may have been an even bigger winner if he hadn’t retired with a then-record for most career free passes.
Wynn went to the White Sox in 1958 and was 1-1 for the Sox in the 1959 World Series. He helped them get there with his last outstanding season, going 22-10. Wynn was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972.
Here are Early Wynn's major league totals:
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