July 13, 1963: Early Wynn Makes a Late Statement, Wins No. 300
Early Wynn had a focus on 300 career wins, and he finally attained it as a member of the Cleveland Indians on July 13, 1963.
It wasn't easy.
Wynn, however, got there and is one of only of only 23 pitchers to win 300 games -- and with the adjustment in pitcher usage recently it is unlikely there will ever been a 24th 300-game winner.
He and Lefty Grove are tied for 22nd with 300 win apiece, three wins behind Randy Johnson. At the top of the list are Cy Young (511) and Walker Johnson (417).
Wynn won No. 299 in 1962 with the Chicago White Sox. He finished that season 7-15, losing his final three starts, allowing 18 earned runs in 23 innings. He went to spring training with the White Sox in 1963, but was released.
And then came the wait. Several teams offered Wynn a one-game contract, hoping to capitalize on fan interest in his quest for 300. Wynn wasn't buying that idea. Finally, in June, the Indians gave him a contract.
After going 0-1 in his first four appearances, three of them starts, Wynn reached 300. It wasn't easy. The 42-year-old Wynn gave up four runs on six hits and three walks, in five innings at Kansas City. The Indians, however, had a 5-4 lead, and reliever Jerry Walker came on in relief of Wynn and made the lead stand up.
"Jerry Walker relieved me and saved the game for me. He was my roommate and pitched like a man possessed", Wynn recalled.
The mission was accomplished. But there was disappointment.
"If I had pitched a good game and gone nine innings, that would be something," Wynn would say later. "But that's not the way it was," Wynn said several years later.
It is a short list of successful pitchers in the 40-plus range, but it is littered with Hall of Famers, and Wynn ranks in the top 10 in strikeouts per nine innings, checking in at No. 10 with 5.675.
Nolan Ryan is the only pitcher in the 40-plus club who ranks int he top 10 in wins 98th with 83), ERA (10th at 3.33) and strikeouts per nine innings (1st, 10.126).