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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Warren Spahn

      (Born April 23, 1921) -- There's no way to determine who is the greatest athlete to come out of Western New York. Even so, everyone would agree that Warren Spahn deserves to be in the argument.

     Spahn was born and raised in Buffalo, attending South Park High School. He dropped out shortly before graduating, heading off to a career in baseball. But before Spahn became established in the game, World War II got in the way. The pitcher became a soldier, fighting at the Battle of the Bulge and earning a Purple Heart.

     The Boston Braves' left-hander finally became established with a 21-10 record in 1947. It was the first of 13 times that he won 20 games in the majors. The wins kept coming from there, even though the location of his home pitcher's mound moved from Boston to Milwaukee. He won a World Series ring in 1957, and won two other pennants in his career.

     After 25 years with the Braves, Spahn was sold to the New York Mets after the 1964 season. He was waived in 1965 and finished the season and his career with the Giants. Spahn won 363 games, one of the largest totals in baseball history. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.

     Spahn was a pitching coach and manager after retirement. His last pitch in front of a crowd came in an old-timers game in Pilot Field in 1990. Spahn has a street named after him in Buffalo off of Abbott Road; he died in Oklahoma in 2003.

--- Budd Bailey

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