Sports Outside the Beltway

Former MLB Pitcher Johnny Sain dead at 89

One half of the baseball saying “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain”, Sain was a very good pitcher who lost three years of his career to World War II. When his playing career was over, Johnny worked as a pitching coach for another 20 years. He passed away in Illinois yesterday. RIP.

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Johnny Sain, a three-time All-Star who teamed with Warren Spahn to make up one of baseball’s most fabled pitching tandems, died Tuesday. He was 89.

Sain’s best year was 1948, when he and Hall of Famer Spahn led the Boston Braves to the World Series, where they lost to Cleveland. It was during that season when the famous saying was born: “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.”

The Boston Post ran a poem by sports editor Gerald Hern that led to the catchy phrase about the Braves’ two dominant pitchers — and the rest of their unheralded rotation.

“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 rain,” it read.

Sain was 139-116 with a 3.49 ERA in 11 seasons in the 1940s and 1950s, mostly with the Braves and New York Yankees. He won three straight World Series titles with Casey Stengel’s Yankees from 1951-53.

The right-hander made his major league debut in 1942, then spent from 1943-45 in the military during World War II. He returned to the big leagues in 1946.

Sain had a stroke in 2002 and had been in poor health. The Knollcrest Funeral Home in Lombard, Ill., said it was handling the arrangements.

The Chicago Tribune reported Sain’s death earlier on its Web site.

Sain was a four-time 20-game winner and later became a top reliever, leading the AL with 22 saves in 1954.

Sain topped the majors with 24 victories and 28 complete games in 1948. He beat Hall of Famer Bob Feller and the Indians 1-0 in Game 1 of the World Series that season.

Later, Sain became a popular pitching coach with the Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota, Detroit and Atlanta.

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