Hall of Fame Pitcher Early Wynn Dies at 79
Early Wynn, who won the Cy Young Award at age 39 and earned his 300th and last victory four years later, died Sunday night. He was 79.
The Hall of Famer’s health had deteriorated in recent months and he died in Florida from complications related to a stroke, his business manager, Dave Baudouin, said Monday.
Wynn spent his final days at Manor Care Health Services in Venice, Fla., said Eric Swope, funeral director at Ewing Funeral Home in Venice.
Born Jan. 6, 1920, Wynn pitched in the major leagues from 1939 to 1963 with Washington, Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox. Wynn, who won 164 games with Cleveland, was known as one of the fiercest competitors of his time.
Asked once if he would throw at his grandmother, Wynn quipped: “Only if she was digging in.”
But Wynn’s toughness had a serious side. In 1949, when he was playing with Cleveland, a Detroit pitcher twice knocked down Indian outfielder Larry Doby, the first African American player in the American League. Wynn knocked down the pitcher on four consecutive pitches when he came to bat.
“Doby is on my team,” Wynn said. “If they hurt him, they hurt me. I’ve got to teach them manners.”
Wynn was a 20-game winner four times for Cleveland and once for the White Sox in the 1950s.
He was 23-11 in 1954, when the Indians won the American League pennant with 111 wins in a 154-game season. In 1959, he won the Cy Young Award for the White Sox with a 22-10 record.
Fellow Hall of Famer and Cleveland teammate Bob Feller remembered Wynn as a great player to have in the clubhouse and on the field.
“Early was afraid of no one,” he said. “We’ll miss him. We worked together, traveled together and socialized together.”
Wynn was also a good hitter, with 17 home runs. He was used as a pinch hitter on several occasions.
In 1963, at age 43, he returned to the Indians needing one more win for 300. He reached the milestone on July 13, 1963, pitching the first five innings of Cleveland’s 5-4 victory in Kansas City. His career record was 300-244.
After he retired, Wynn was a pitching coach for the Indians and Minnesota Twins. He also campaigned for increasing retired ballplayers’ pensions. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.
Wynn’s wife of 50 years, Lorraine, died in 1994. Wynn is survived by a daughter and son, a half-sister and three grandchildren.
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The 300 Club
Pitchers with 300 or more victories:
1. Cy Young: 511-316
2. Walter Johnson: 417-279
3. Grover Alexander: 373-208
3. Christy Mathewson: 373-188
5. Warren Spahn: 363-245
6. Kid Nichols: 361-208
7. Pud Galvin: 360-308
8. Tim Keefe: 342-225
9. Steve Carlton: 329-244
10. John Clarkson: 328-178
11. Eddie Plank: 326-194
12. Nolan Ryan: 324-292
12. Don Sutton: 324-256
14. Phil Niekro: 318-274
15. Gaylord Perry: 314-265
16. Tom Seaver: 311-205
17. Charles Radbourn: 309-195
18. Mickey Welch: 307-210
19. Lefty Grove: 300-141
19. Early Wynn: 300-244