"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
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
A four-time 20-game winner, later a top reliever, John Franklin Sain
successful pitching coach for the Yankees, Chicago White Sox,
The battle cry of the 1948 Boston Braves "SPAHN AND SAIN AND PRAY
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
"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
by Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay; others say it came from Kirby
takes the credit; Mattingly gives the credit to Puckett.
"Ellie" - affectionate abbreviation of Elston Howard's
"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
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
factory near Yankee Stadium signaled the end of the work day in the
also what the Yankees were doing to the opposition on the field.
"Flash" - Joe Gordon earned this nick-name because of his fast,
fielding and hot line drives.
"Four hour manager" - Bucky Harris, who put his time in at the game
"Fordham Johnny" - for the college Johnny Murphy attended.
"Friday Night Massacre" - April 26, 1974, Yankees Fritz Patterson,
Kline, Fred Beene, Tom Buskey, and half the pitching staff were
Cleveland for Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow, and Ceil Upshaw.
"Gator" - Ron Guidry, who came from Louisiana alligator
"Gay Caballero" - Lefty Gomez for his Mexican roots and fun loving
"Gay Reliever" - Joe Page for his night owl activity.
" Gehrigville." Bleachers in right-center at Yankee Stadium.
# # #
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
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.
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