White Sox trade for Wynn
Early Wynn had already beaten the odds once, resurrecting his career with the Cleveland Indians at the age of 29.
Now – nine years later – Wynn was prepared to do it again.
On Dec. 4, 1957, the Indians traded Wynn and outfielder Al Smith to the Chicago White Sox for Minnie Miñoso and Fred Hatfield. Wynn had already posted four 20-win seasons in the first eight years of the 1950s, but might have saved his best performance for Chicago – who had not won an American League pennant since the Black Sox of 1919.
Born Jan. 6, 1920 in Hartford, Ala., Wynn made his big league debut in 1939 with the Senators at age 19. By 1942, the muscular 6-foot, 190-pound right-hander had become a regular in the Washington rotation. And in 1943, Wynn won 18 games, started a league-best 33 times and finished 18th in the Most Valuable Player Award voting.
But after losing 17 games in 1944 and missing the next season while serving in the Army, Wynn found uneven results with the Senators until he was traded to the Indians following the 1948 season.
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With Cleveland, Wynn worked with coach Mel Harder – who taught him several off-speed pitches. By 1950, Wynn was an 18-game winner and the AL’s leader in earned-run average (3.20).
“I don’t like losing a ball game any more than salesmen like losing a sale,” said Wynn, who never lost his aggressive demeanor on the mound despite throwing fewer and fewer fastballs as his career progressed. “I’ve got a right to knock down anybody holding a bat.”
Wynn teamed with future Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Bob Lemon – along with Mike Garcia – to form one of the most durable and dominant rotations in league history. After several near-misses against the Yankees in the AL pennant race, Wynn and the Indians put it all together in 1954 – winning 111 games en route to the World Series. Wynn posted league-highs in wins (23) and innings pitched (270.2) that season, and the following year he was named to his second All-Star Game – and his first since 1947.
But after a 14-17 season in 1957 – Wynn’s first losing season in nine years – the Indians sent Wynn to the White Sox for the popular Miñoso. The trade proved a good one for both teams, with Miñoso hitting .302 in both seasons with the Indians while Wynn was leading Chicago to the AL pennant while winning the Cy Young Award in 1959.
Wynn, who was named to eight straight All-Star Games after he turned 35 years old, won his 300th career game with the Indians in 1963 before retiring. He finished with a career mark of 300-244 and a 3.54 ERA.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum