Atlanta Braves Who Served in World War II

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Uncredited file photo.

Warren Spahn/US Army

Spahn’s experience was pretty much the polar opposite of Sain’s.  Eventually rising through the enlisted ranks to the rank of 1st Lieutenant, Spahn was in the midst of the European theater of operations with the 1159th Engineer Combat Group/276th Battalion.  He was wounded by shrapnel in battle (receiving the Purple Heart) and narrowly escaped the fate of 30 colleagues as a bridge his battalion was defending finally collapsed under German fire, taking 30 soldiers with it.

Spahn did get to play some baseball, though:  in May 1945 – after the German surrender, he pitched for the 1159th Engineers Group at their base in Germany at the University of Heidelberg.  Yes, he was dominant.

One back in the States, Spahn’s career took off.  13 seasons of 20 wins or more between 1947 and 1963 for the Braves – both in Boston and Milwaukee.  He was a perennial All-Star, and won a Cy Young Award in 1957 (2nd three times after that).  He is the winniest left-hander ever with a 363-245 career mark and a Hall of Famer.