Monday, November 30, 2015

#10 Warren Spahn - Milwaukee Braves

Warren Edward Spahn
Milwaukee Braves

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Left  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  172
Born:  April 23, 1921, Buffalo, NY
Signed:  Signed by the Boston Bees as an amateur free agent in 1940
Major League Teams:  Boston Braves 1942, 1946-1952; Milwaukee Braves 1953-1964; New York Mets 1965; San Francisco Giants 1965
Died:  November 24, 2003, Broken Arrow, OK (age 82)
Hall of Fame Induction:  1973

One of the greatest left-handed pitchers of all time, Warren Spahn enjoyed a 21-year career in the Major Leagues and his 363 wins are the most ever by a lefty.  He was a 14-time National League All-Star and he compiled 20-win seasons 13 times, including in 1963 at the age of 42.  Spahn was the National League Cy Young Award winner in 1957, the year he led the Milwaukee Braves to their only World Championship title.  He pitched no-hitters in 1960 and 1961 and he led the league in complete games seven years in a row between 1957 and 1963.

He missed three seasons (1943-1945) early in his career serving in World War II and he pitched professionally until he was 46 with the Triple-A Tulsa Oilers.  Following his playing days, Spahn managed the Tulsa Oilers (a Cardinals farm club) for five seasons and was the Indians pitching coach in 1972 and 1973.

Building the Set
September 8, 1990 in Vineland, NJ - Card #95
Dad and I attended a baseball card show at Vineland's Cumberland Mall in early September 1990, and this was our big purchase.  We paid $25 for the card at the beginning of my junior year in high school.

1990 and 1991, years in which I was a junior and then a senior in high school, saw us add the fewest amount of cards to our 1956 Topps set.  My records show we added just three cards in 1990 and another three cards in 1991.  Part of this has to do with the fact that I was a junior and senior in high school, otherwise occupied by typical teenage stuff.  The other part has to do with the fact that we were actively collecting other Topps sets from the 1970s at this point.

All while collecting the 1956 Topps set, Dad I compiled a complete 1975 set, followed by the 1974 and 1976 sets.  We then began the 1973 set followed by the 1970 set.  We hand collated these four sets during our "golden era" of collecting together between 1987 and 1997.  I finished off the 1972 set a few years back and I'm still plodding my way through a 1971 set in order to have a full run of sets from the 1970s.

I recently discussed with my eight-year-old son Doug the idea of the two of us collecting a vintage set together.  He's shown some interest in this 1956 Topps blog, and it makes me smile to think that one day he might be writing a similar blog discussing how he and I put together the 1965, 1966 or 1967 Topps set.

The Card
Spahn appears to be levitating in the clouds as he rises above the rafters of County Stadium.  The head shot on the front is the same used on his 1955 Topps card.  It's safe to assume the cartoon in the first panel featuring the scalps of Spahn's National League opponents would not appear on a modern-day baseball card.

1956 Season
Spahn's Braves were a year away from their World Series appearance, finishing second in the National League behind the Dodgers by just one game.  Spahn won 20 games to a 2.78 ERA, anchoring the Braves rotation that also consisted of 19-game winner Lew Burdette (#219) and 18-game winner Bob Buhl (#244).

The Braves had a chance to win the pennant on the final day of the regular season, but Spahn's 11+ inning performance went to waste as the Cardinals walked off with a 2-1 victory.  Rip Repulski's (#201) double off Spahn scored Stan Musial with the winning run, giving the Dodgers the pennant and causing Spahn to reportedly weep as he walked off the field.

1948 Bowman #18
1951 Topps Red Backs #30
1965 Topps #205
1973 Topps #449
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1948 Bowman #18
First Topps Card:  1951 Topps Red Backs #30
Last Topps Card (as a player):  1965 Topps #205
First Topps Card (as a coach):  1973 Topps #449
Most Recent Topps Card (post-career):  2010 Topps #20B SP
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2015 Topps Archives #170

861 - Spahn non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 11/29/15

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
National Baseball Hall of Fame
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.


  1. Would you believe I've never seen this card until now? As you mentioned, the clouds give it a very different look.

  2. One of the things I'm enjoying when going back through these cards is really looking at them. When we bought the Spahn card, I was just happy to have it for our set. Looking at it now, I'd love to be able to ask the Topps graphic designer why he decided to have Spahn levitating.