The Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers played a crucial doubleheader at Braves Field on Labor Day, Sept. 6, 1948.
Warren Spahn started the opener, facing Brooklyn’s Ralph “Big Number 13” Branca. After nine innings, the score was 1-1. In the 14th inning, the Braves scored to win.
Spahn pitched 14 innings for the complete game win.
Johnny Sain started the nightcap, which was called after six and one-half innings, giving Sain and the Braves a 4-0 win.
The Braves had two days off following the doubleheader, but their next scheduled game was rained out. They returned to action on Sept. 11 in a doubleheader at Philadelphia.
Sain started the opener,facing Schoolboy Rowe. Bob Elliott hit a three-run home run in the third inning, Sain pitched a seven hit complete game and the Braves won, 3-1.
Warren Spahn started the second game against Robin Roberts. It was no contest as the Braves slugged their way to an easy 13-2 victory.
Spahn pitched a complete game and also hit a home run and double.
The Braves and Phillies played another doubleheader the next day, but neither Spahn nor Sain started either game. Boy, were they wimps.
After an off day on Monday, the Braves returned home to face the Chicago Cubs in a two game series.
Sain started the first game on Sept. 14 and earned a complete game victory.. Spahn started and won the next day. Both pitched complete games.
From Sept. 6 through and including Sept. 15, Spahn and Sain, with some help from the rain, each started, completed and won three games. They weren’t finished yet.
On Sept. 17, the Pittsburgh Pirates visited Boston for two games.Sain started, completed and won the first for his 21st victory of the season. Spahn started, completed and won the next day.
Combined, Spahn and Sain went 8-0 from Sept. 6 to Sept. 18.
By the time the duo was given some rest, the Braves were well on their way to their first pennant since the miracle of 1914.
Spahn finished the 1948 season at 15-12 with a 3.71 ERA, a 105 ERA+, 16 complete games and 257 innings of work.
Sain, who was the ace, completed 28 of his 39 starts. He pitched 314 and two-thirds innings, won 24 games. lost 15. He had a 2.30 ERA and a 149 ERA+.
Sain, who basically started his career at the age of 28 because he defended freedom from 1943-45, pitched until he was 37-years-old.
Spahn missed three seasons for the same reason and started his career when he was 25-years-old. He pitched until he was 44.
Today’s pitchers could work as often as did Spahn and Sain.
James Shields (11 complete games), Roy Halladay (seven complete games) and Cliff Lee (six complete games) have bucked the trend in 2011.
One could argue that left-hander Lee cannot measure up to Spahn, whom many consider the greatest left-hander of all time, but Shields and Halladay can certainly hold their own when compared to Sain.
Hey, Joe Girardi, let’s get rid of the six man rotation. How about making it seven instead?