Warren Spahn (April 23, 1921 - November 24, 2003) was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for 21 seasons, all in the National League. Although never quite as dominating as some, he was both astonishingly consistent and durable. He won 20 games in 13 different seasons, and compiled a 23-7 record when he was aged 42. He won more games than any other left-handed pitcher, or any other pitcher who played his entire career in the post-1920 live-ball era, and is acknowledged as one of the best left-handed pitchers in Major League Baseball history.
Spahn was born in Buffalo, New York. In 1940 he signed with the Braves organization. His major league career began in 1942 with the Braves and he spent all but one year with that franchise, first in Boston and then in Milwaukee. He finished his career in 1965 with the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants. Spahn won more games than any other lefty (363) and is the fifth-winningest pitcher ever, trailing only Cy Young (511), Walter Johnson (417), Grover Cleveland Alexander (373), and Christy Mathewson (373) on the all-time list. (Some rank Spahn sixth after 19th-century pitcher Pud Galvin, who won 364 games. But four of Galvin's wins came in 1875 in the National Association. Since there is not consensus about whether the National Association should be considered a "major league", Spahn and Galvin's relative rankings have sparked controversy.)
Spahn also threw two no-hitters, won 3 ERA titles, appeared in 14 All-Star games, and holds the National League record for career home runs by a pitcher with 35. Spahn led the National League in wins eight times, including five seasons in a row (1949, 1950, 1953, 1957-1961) and complete games nine seasons, seven consecutively (1949, 1951, 1957-63); these numbers are major league records. He won the NL Cy Young Award in 1957.
Spahn pitched in the World Series for the Braves in 1948, 1957, and 1958. During the 1948 season, he combined with teammate Johnny Sain to anchor a pitching rotation that was generally considered to be exceptionally weak otherwise, resulting in the saying, "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain."
Spahn served in the United States Army in World War II and was wounded in Europe. He was awarded Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star for bravery. He saw action in the Battle of the Bulge and at the Ludendorff Bridge (the famous bridge at Remagen) as a combat engineer, and was awarded a battlefield commission. He was the only one of major league baseball's military who earned a battlefield commission.
Spahn died at age 82, apparently of natural causes, at his home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He is interred in the Elmwood Cemetery in Hartshorne.
He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, his first year of eligibility.
In 1999, he ranked Number 21 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Another honoree, Sandy Koufax, joked, "He should be on the All-Century Team, since he pitched most of the century."