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"Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain"

There was the sad news today out of Downers Grove, Illinois that three time All Star hurler Johnny Sain passed away. He had paired with Warren Spahn to create one of the top one-two pitching punches in baseball history

A poem in The Boston Post in 1948  by sports editor Gerald Hern  led to the famous phrase about the Braves' two terrific  pitchers and had commentary in it about the rest of the staff: 
 
"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.".

A four-time 20-game winner, later a top reliever, John Franklin Sain was a successful pitching coach for the Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota, Detroit and Atlanta. 

The battle cry of the 1948 Boston Braves "SPAHN AND SAIN AND PRAY FOR RAIN" is one of the more famous language gems in a sports that has had  many. For your edification and reading pleasure, some more follow:

"Danish Viking" - George Pipgras, for his size and roots.

"Daddy Longlegs"  - Dave Winfield, for his size and long legs.

"Death Valley" - the old deep centerfield in Yankee Stadium - a home run here was a mighty poke.

"Dial-a-Deal - Gabe Paul earned this one for his telephone trading habits.

"Donnie Baseball" - Don Mattingly was the only player in any sport to have a  nickname with the actual name of his or her sport in it. Some say it was coined by Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay; others say it came from Kirby Pucket. Kay takes the credit; Mattingly gives the credit to Puckett.

"Ellie"   - affectionate abbreviation of Elston Howard's first name    

"Father of the Emory Ball" -  Rookie right-hander Russ Ford posted a 26-6 record with 8 shutouts, 1910

"Fireman" - The first to have this nick-name was Johnny Murphy, the first great relief pitcher who put out fires.  Joe Page picked up this nick-name for his top relief work later on.     

"Five O'clock Lightning" - At five o'clock the blowing of a whistle at a factory near Yankee Stadium signaled the end of the work day in the 1930s and also what the Yankees were doing to the opposition on the field.  

"Flash" - Joe Gordon earned this nick-name because of his fast, slick fielding and hot line drives.

"Four hour manager" - Bucky Harris, who put his time in at the game and was finished.

"Fordham Johnny" - for the college Johnny Murphy attended.

"Friday Night Massacre" - April 26, 1974, Yankees Fritz Patterson, Steve Kline, Fred Beene, Tom Buskey, and half the pitching staff were traded to Cleveland for Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow, and Ceil Upshaw.

"Gator"   - Ron Guidry, who came from Louisiana alligator country.

"Gay Caballero" - Lefty Gomez for his Mexican roots and fun loving ways.

"Gay Reliever" -   Joe Page for his night owl activity.

" Gehrigville." Bleachers in right-center at Yankee Stadium.

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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