Tom Glavine and the Ghost of Warren Spahn
Tom Glavine and the Ghost of Warren SpahnCopyright © 2006 Evan Pritchard
Okay, so Tom Glavine had a little trouble adjusting to New York, and had the misfortune of joining the Mets just as they were entering their worst years of the 21st century. He had trouble getting people out for a few seasons. But he hung in their and toughed out the bad times. Now he’s once again a dominant force in the National League, and is still on his way to the Hall of Fame and possibly more post-season excitement with the Mets, who now lead the .500 (22 and 22) Braves by 4 ½ games, led in part by his 7-2 pitching, and above-.400 hitting.
When he was a child growing up in Concord, MA. he heard about the Braves’ great hurler Warren Spahn from his father who grew up not far from Boston, home of the Boston Braves until they moved to Milwaukee in 1953. Glavine once said he learned all about baseball from Warren Spahn through his father. Young Tommy wanted to be just like Warren Spahn when he grew up, and that dream has become another amazing fact at AMAZINE. Let’s compare their lifetime records.
Warren Spahn 4/23/21 Buffalo NY BL TL 6 foot 175 lbs. Debut, 4/19/1942, at the age of 20. (He turned 21 a few days later, and played out the season as a 21 year old.
Tom Glavine 3/25/66 Concord MA, BL TL 6’ 1” 190 lbs. Debut 8/17/87. He was 21
Warren Spahn had a short, premature pre-rookie season in the majors, with the team of his destiny, the Braves. In 1942 Spahn went 0-0 4 games, 2 starts 15 innings pitched 25 hits, 0 HR 11 BB 7 SO with an ERA of 5.47. He batted .167. For most of that year he was 21. He did not reach the majors again for four years.
In 1987, Glavine also had a premature pre-rookie season with the same team, the Braves, now of Atlanta. He had a 2-4 record in 9 games. In 50 innings, he gave up 55 hits, 5 HR, 33 BB and 20 SO, with an ERA of 5.54. He was also 21. He batted .125.
In1946, at the age of 25, Spahn returned to the Boston Braves and went 8-5, appearing in 24 games, 8 complete games, pitching a total of 125 innings, giving up 107 hits 6 HR, 36 BB 67 SO with an ERA of 2.94, excellent numbers. He batted .163.
Unlike Spahn, Glavine came right back the following year (in 1988) at the age of 22. He went 7-17 appearing in 34 games with one complete game, 195 innings pitched, 201 hits, 12 HR, 63 BB 84 SO and a 4.56 ERA, not Hall of Fame numbers. He batted only .183.
In1947 at the age of 26, Spahn went 21-10 for the Boston Braves, appearing in 40 games with 22 complete games, 7 shutouts, 245 hits 15 HR 84 BB 123 SO. He had a lead leading ERA of 2.33. He batted .163.
In 1989, at the age of 23, Glavine went 14-8 for the Braves, appearing in 29 games, with 6 complete games and 4 shutouts. He pitched 186 innings, giving up 172 hits, 20 HR, 40 BB, 90 SO and a 3.68 ERA. Note that Glavine had a much better walks to strikeouts percentage. Not bad! Glavine batted .149. Glavine’s father reminded Tom that Spahn became a 20 game winner in his second complete year. Tom fell six wins short in his.
In 1948, at the age of 27, Spahn went 15-12 appearing in 36 games for the Braves, with 16 complete games, and 3 shutouts, in 237 innings pitched. He gave up 19 HR, 77 BB, and marked up 114 SO. He posted an ERA of 3.17. He batted .167. In the World Series against Cleveland, he went 1 and 1 with a 3.00 ERA. He pitched 12 innings, with 10 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 walks and 12 strikeouts. He got an RBI at the plate as well. This was the World Series that inspired the famous baseball saying, “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.” Like the current Mets team, the Braves had two great starters in Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, but no one else to start. Those two got the only two wins the Braves enjoyed in the series against Cleveland, who had Bob Feller, Satchel Paige, and Bob Lemon. Ironically, Lemon got two of Cleveland’s four wins, the other two were turned in by Gene Bearden and Steve Gromek, not exactly household names.
In 1990, at the age of 24, Glavine went 10-12 in 33 appearances for the Braves, (one complete game, no shutouts) with 214 innings pitched. He gave up 232 hits, 18 homers, 78 BB 129 SO, and a 4.28 ERA. He batted .113. Glavine was not to make his World Series debut until the following year.
Note that both pitchers had approximately the same number of losses, homers, bases on balls, strikeouts, and innings pitched. In fact, Glavine gave up one less homer, and 5 less hits.
In 1949, aged 28, Spahn went 21-14 (the most wins on the year for a National Leaguer), appearing in 38 games, with 25 complete games (he led the league in this category too), and 4 shutouts. He pitched a remarkable league-leading 302 innings, giving up 283 hits, only 27 homers, 86 BB versus 151 SO, and sporting a 3.07 ERA. He batted .162. He was already one of the most dominant names in baseball.
In 1991, at the age of 25 Glavine went 20 and 11, (he led the league with 20 wins) appearing in 34 games, leading the league with 9 complete games, and also had 1 shutout. He pitched 246 innings with 201 hits, only 17 homers, 69 BB, 192 SO, and sporting a 2.55 ERA. He batted .230 at the plate. Glavine went 0-2 in the NLCS with a 3.21 ERA, pitching 14 innings with 12 hits, 5 earned runs, 6 walks and 11 strikeouts. The Braves beat the Pirates 4-3, and went on to play the Twins in the World Series, whom they also beat 4-3. In his first World Series, like Spahn, Tom went 1 and 1, and gave up 4 earned runs. However Tom posted a lower ERA (2.70) and one complete game. He gave up 8 hits (2 less than Spahn) in 13.1 innings (1 more), with 7 walks (4 more) and 8 strikeouts (4 less) in his first World Series as opposed to Spahn. He also batted .250 at the plate.
Please note that Glavine bested his father’s pitching hero in some respects during the regular season, giving up 82 less hits, 10 less homers, 17 less bases on balls, getting 41 more strikeouts, and maintaining an ERA that was .52 points lower than Warren’s. In this critical fourth year, both led the league as a twenty game winner, and both led the league in complete games as well. When Tom called to tell his father he had won 20 games, Mr. Glavine reminded him that Spahn didn’t need to wait until his 4th year. However Glavine became a 20 game winner when he was only 25. Spahn was still a rookie at 25 and the 20 win years were still a year away.
In 1950, at the age of 29, Spahn gave the Boston Braves another 20 win season, going 21-17, leading the league in wins. He appeared in 41 games, with a remarkable 25 complete games, and 1 shutout. He pitched in 293 innings, giving up 248 hits, 22 HR, 111 BB, getting a league leading 191 SO, and hosting a 3.16 ERA. He batted a healthy .217
Glavine at the age of 26, in 1992, also gave the Braves a 20 win year, going 20 and 8, also leading the league in wins. He appeared in 33 games, with 7 complete games and a league leading 5 shutouts. He pitched 225 innings, giving up 197 hits, only 6 HR, 70 BB versus 129 SO and hosting an ERA of 2.76. He batted a healthy .247.
Note that Glavine had an ERA that was .35 points lower than Spahns’ during their respective fifth years, and gave up 51 less hits, 16 less homers, 41 less bases on balls. His walk to strike out ratio was also better than Spahn’s. Glavine pitched in the 1992 NLCS, but went 0-2 with a 12.27 ERA. In the 1992 World Series, he went 1 and 1 giving up 3 earned runs (again similar to Spahn’s first Series), posting a 1.59 ERA thorugh 17 innings, ie 2 complete games. He gave up 10 hits 4 walks and got 8 strikeouts in that series against the victorious Blue Jays, who won 4 games to 2.
In1951, at the age of 30, Spahn went 22 and14 for the Braves, appearing in 39 games, leading the league with both 26 complete games and 7 shutouts. He pitched a remarkable 310 innings, giving up 278 hits 20 HR, 109 BB and chalking up a league leading 164 SO while hosting a 2.98 ERA His batting average fell to .190
In 1993, at the age of 27, Glavine went 22 and 6, appearing in 36 games with 4 complete games, and two shutouts. He pitched 239 innings, giving up 236 hits, 16 homers, 90 BB, 120 SO, and posting a 3.20 ERA. His batting average fell to .173
Note that both pitchers were 22 game winners in their sixth year. Glavine gave up 4 less homers, and 19 less walks. Glavine’s ERA was .22 points higher, but still similar numbers in many respects.
In the 1993 NLCS, Glavine went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA with 7 walks and 11 strikeouts, but the Braves lost to the Phillies, 4 games to 2 and were eliminated.
Spahn, at the age of 31 and pitching in his seventh full year for the Braves in1952, coming off one of his greatest years, went only 14-19 in 40 games, a disappointing year, win-wise. Nonetheless, he pitched19 complete games, with 5 shutouts, giving up 263 hits, 19 homers, and 73 BB while striking out a league leading 183 SO. His ERA was a chilling 2.98. His own batting average was was .161. It was to be his last year pitching in Boston, as the Braves decided to move west to the Great Lakes and take up residence in Milwaukee.
In 1994, Glavine, at the age of 28, also went down in wins, posting a 13 and 9 record, one less win that Spahn had in his seventh year, but a much better win-loss percentage. In 25 appearances, Glavine pitched 2 complete games. He pitched 165 innings, with 173 hits, only 10 homers, 70 BB, 140 SO, and a 3.97 ERA. He batted .179.
Note the similar number of wins, and bases on balls. Also, Glavine had 9 less homers dealt, although the 43 difference in strikeouts is hard to ignore.
No World Series was played in 1994.
Warren Spahn adjusted to a new city in 1953 with gusto, posting a league leading 23 and 7 record in his 32nd year. He appeared in 35 games, with 24 complete games and 5 shutouts. In 265 innings, he gave up 211 hits, 14 HR, 70 BB 148 SO, and unleashed a league-leading 2.10 ERA, certainly one of the better ERAs of modern times. His batting average was a healthy .219.
Glavine,in his eighth year, 1995, at the age of 29, went 16 and 7 in 29 appearances, with 3 complete games and 1 shutout. In 198 innings, he gave up 182 hits, 9 HR, 66 BB, 127 SO and had a 3.08 ERA. He batted .222, pretty good for a pitcher, and 3 points ahead of Spahn for his eighth year.
Note that both pitchers had the same number of losses in their eighth year, and similar number of walks. Glavine gave up 5 less homers, 4 less walks, but 21 less strikeouts. Although never a 2.10 pitcher, Tom Glavine did fall within one whole run of Spahn’s best year ERA.
In the NLDS in 1995, Glavine went 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 7 innings against the Rockies, and batted .333 at the plate. In the NLCS, the Braves beat the Reds 4 games to nothing. Tom Glavine went 0-0 but posted a remarkable 1.29 ERA in 7 innings, 5 strikeouts to 2 walks. In the 1995 World Series, the Braves defeated the Indians 4 games to 2. Glavine had a great series, going 2-0, with a 1.29ERA, giving up 2 earned runs in 14 innings, with 11 strikeouts to 6 walks.
Warren Spahn, at the age of 33, in 1954, went 21 and 12, appearing in 39 games with a remarkable 23 complete games, with one shutout. He pitched 283 innings, giving up 262 hits, 24 HR, 86 BB, 136 SO, and hosting a 3.14 ERA. He batted .208.
Glavine, in his ninth year, (1996) at the age of 30, went 15 and 10 in 36 appearances with one complete game. He pitched 235 innings, giving up 222 hits, 14 HR, 85 BB, getting 181 SO, and sporting a 2.98 ERA. He batted .289 on the season, earning a reputation as a great hitting pitcher.
Note that Glavine had less bases on balls but 45 more strikeouts than Spahn. Glavine also had 2 less losses in 3 less appearances. He gave up 40 less hits, 10 less homers, and achieved an ERA that was .16 points less than that of Spahn’s for the corresponding year.
In the NLDS, the Braves bested the Dodgers 3-0. Glavine went 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA, with 7 strikeouts to 3 walks, one earned run in 6.2 innings. He also batted .500 in 2 at bats. In the NLCS, the Braves beat the Cards 4 games to 3. Glavine went 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA, 3 earned runs in 13 innings, 10 hits 9 strikeouts to no walks. That led to the classic World Series between the Yankees and Braves, which the Yankees won 4 games to 2. Glavine went 0-1 with a 1.29 ERA over 7 innings, with one earned run, 4 hits and 8 strikeouts to 3 walks. Compare this series to Spahn’s 1958 post-season, where he had a 2.20 ERA in a losing effort to the Yankees, who won the Series, 4 games to 3.
This ends part one of the comparisons between Warren Spahn and the “Spawn of Spahn, Tom Glavine,” covering the first 10 seasons. Watch for part two in an upcoming posting, when we will compare Spahn’s 1955 through 1965 seasons with Glavine’s 1997 through 2005 seasons. Spahn got to pitch again in the World Series as the Braves defeated the Yankees in 1957 (1 and 1, 4.70 ERA) and lost to the Yankees in 1958 (2 and 1, 2.20 ERA) Both pitchers are known for winning in a losing effort against the Yankees in World Series play. In 1958 Spahn helped his own cause immensely with 38 base hits on the year for an amazing .333 batting average, which carried over into his World Series play, going 4 for 12 (.333) against the Yankees’Whitey Ford. Interestingly, at the end of his career, Spahn left the Braves, his lifelong team, to join the New York Giants, the team that more than any other is the predecessor of today’s Metropolitans. He even wore the old Giants’ baseball cap with what is now the Mets logo on it. Interesting!